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Tears, Tributes As Americans Remember 9/11

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From ground zero to small towns, Americans looked back Monday on 9/11 with moments of silence, tearful words and appeals to teach younger generations about the terror attacks 22 years before.

“For those of us who lost people on that day, that day is still happening. Everybody else moves on. And you find a way to go forward, but that day is always happening for you,” Edward Edelman said as he arrived at New York’s World Trade Center to honor his slain brother-in-law, Daniel McGinley.

President Joe Biden was due at a ceremony on a military base in Anchorage, Alaska. His visit, en route to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam, is a reminder that the impact of 9/11 was felt in every corner of the nation, however remote. Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes crashed into the trade center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, in an attack that reshaped American foreign policy and domestic fears.

On that day, “we were one country, one nation, one people, just like it should be. That was the feeling — that everyone came together and did what we could, where we were at, to try to help,” Eddie Ferguson, the fire-rescue chief in Virginia’s Goochland County, said in an interview before the anniversary.

The predominantly rural county of 25,000 people, more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the Pentagon, has a Sept. 11 memorial and holds two anniversary commemorations, one focused on first responders and another honoring all the victims.

At ground zero, Vice President Kamala Harris joined other dignitaries at the ceremony on the National Sept. 11 Memorial plaza. Instead of remarks from political figures, the event features victims reading the names of the dead and delivering brief personal messages.

Some included patriotic declarations about American values and thanked first responders and the military. One lauded the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaida leader and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Another appealed for peace and justice. One acknowledged the many lives lost in the post-9/11 “War on Terror.” And many shared reflections on missing loved ones.

“Though we never met, I am honored to carry your name and legacy with me,” said Manuel João DaMota Jr., who was born after his father and namesake died.

Jason Inoa, 20, found it nerve-wracking to tell the crowd about his grandfather, Jorge Velazquez. But Inoa did it for his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

“The one thing she does remember is her husband,” he said afterward.

Biden, a Democrat, will be the first president to commemorate Sept. 11 in the western U.S. He and his predecessors have gone to one or another of the attack sites in most years, though Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama each marked the anniversary on the White House lawn at times. Obama followed one of those observances by recognizing the military with a visit to Fort Meade in Maryland.

First lady Jill Biden is due to lay a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon, where a giant American flag hung over the side of the building, bells tolled, and musicians played taps at 9:37 a.m., the time when one of the hijacked jets hit the military headquarters.

“As the years go by, it may feel that the world is moving on or even forgetting what happened here on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who deployed to Iraq in the war that followed the attack. “But please know this: The men and women of the Department of Defense will always remember.”

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is expected at an afternoon ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where another plane crashed after passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

At a morning observance, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, where a gunman killed 11 worshippers in 2018, called for ensuring that younger people know about 9/11.

“With memory comes responsibility, the determination to share our stories with this next generation, so that through them, our loved ones continue to live,” he told the gathering.

The National Park Service-run memorial site is offering a new educational video, virtual tour and other materials for classroom use. Educators with a total of more than 10,000 students have registered for access, organizers say.

Many Americans did volunteer work on what Congress has designated both Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Others gathered for anniversary events at memorials, firehouses, city halls, campuses and elsewhere.

In Iowa, a march set off at 9:11 a.m. Monday from the Des Moines suburb of Waukee to the state Capitol. In Columbus, Indiana, observances include a remembrance message sent to police, fire and EMS radios. Pepperdine University’s campus in Malibu, California, displays one American flag for each victim, plus the flags of every other country that lost a citizen on 9/11.

New Jersey’s Monmouth County, which was home to some 9/11 victims, this year made Sept. 11 a holiday for county employees so they could attend commemorations.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts raise and lower the flag at a commemoration in Fenton, Missouri, where a “Heroes Memorial” includes steel from the World Trade Center’s fallen twin towers and a plaque honoring Jessica Leigh Sachs, a 9/11 victim with relatives among the St. Louis suburb’s 4,000 residents.

“We’re just a little bitty community,” Mayor Joe Maurath said by phone before the anniversary, but “it’s important for us to continue to remember these events. Not just 9/11, but all of the events that make us free.”

– Agency Report

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Africa

Malawi’s Vice President, Nine Others Confirmed Dead in Plane Crash

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Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other people died when the small military plane they were traveling in crashed in bad weather in a mountainous region in the north of the country, the president said Tuesday. Chilima was 51.

President Lazarus Chakwera announced that the wreckage of the plane that went missing Monday morning had been located after a search of more than 24 hours in thick forests and hilly terrain near the city of Mzuzu. He said the wreckage was found near a hill and the plane had been “completely destroyed,” with everyone killed on impact.

It was a “terrible tragedy,” Chakwera said. “Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is, and I can only imagine how much pain and anguish you all must be feeling.” He called Chilima “a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction and a formidable vice president.”

Chakwera said the victims’ remains were being brought to the southern African nation’s capital, Lilongwe. The seven passengers included members of Chilima’s staff and security detail along with former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former President Bakili Muluzi. There were three crew members.

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and forest rangers had searched for the plane since it went missing Monday at around 10 a.m. while making the 45-minute flight from Lilongwe to Mzuzu, around 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

The group was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister. Air traffic controllers told the plane not to attempt a landing at Mzuzu’s airport because of bad weather and poor visibility and asked it to turn back to Lilongwe. Air traffic control then lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar.

Chakwera said the wreckage was found in the Chikangawa Forest south of Mzuzu. Images from the site showed thick fog over the hills and remnants of the plane in an open area near the tree line. The president described the aircraft as a small, propeller-driven plane operated by the Malawian armed forces.

Officials with Chilima’s United Transformation Movement political party — a party different from the president’s — criticized the government response as slow and said there was no transponder on the plane, concerning for an aircraft carrying a high-level delegation.

Chilima and Chakwera had led Malawi under unusual circumstances. They both ran for president in 2019 as opposition candidates but teamed up to challenge election results in court over irregularities, and won. They then won the rerun of the election – the first time in Africa that a court-overturned election result resulted in a defeat for the incumbent president.

Chilima had said Chakwera had agreed to step down after his first term and allow him to run for president in next year’s election as part of their alliance. However, Chakwera announced he would run for reelection, and there were signs of friction between the two.

Chilima also had recently faced corruption charges over allegations that he received money in return for influencing the awarding of government procurement contracts for the armed forces and the police. Prosecutors dropped the charges last month. He had denied the allegations.

Chilima had just returned from an official visit to South Korea on Sunday. He was in his second term as vice president after serving from 2014-2019 under former President Peter Mutharika.

The search for the plane prompted an international response. Chakwera said the U.S., the U.K., Norway and Israel had offered assistance and provided “specialized technologies.” The U.S. Embassy in Malawi said it had assisted and offered the use of a Department of Defense small C-12 plane. Malawi also asked neighbors Zambia and Tanzania if they could help.

Malawi, a country of around 21 million people, was ranked as the fourth poorest nation in the world by the World Bank in 2019.

AP

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USA

Guilty As Charged! Trump Convicted in Hush-Money Case, Awaits Sentencing

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A New York jury convicted Donald Trump on all charges in his hush-money case on Thursday in a seismic development barely five months ahead of the election where he seeks to recapture the White House.

The verdict makes Trump the first criminally convicted former US president but does not prevent him from campaigning for another term.

The first criminal trial of a former US president ended with the 77-year-old Trump found guilty on each of the 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide a payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels.Trump – who was released without bail and is all but certain to appeal – initially sat still in the drab Manhattan courtroom, shoulders dipping.

Addressing reporters outside minutes later, though, he branded the result a “disgrace” and “rigged,” vowing that the “real verdict” would come from voters in the November 5 presidential election.

The conviction thrusts the United States into uncharted political territory.

However, it does not bar Trump from his continuing his White House run, even in the unlikely event that Judge Juan Merchan sentences him to prison.

Sentencing was set for July 11 – right before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is due to receive the party’s formal nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the election.

Biden’s campaign issued a statement saying that the trial showed “no one is above the law.” It added that “the threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater.”

The 12-member jury deliberated for more than 11 hours over two days before announcing the unanimous conclusion within a matter of minutes.

Merchan thanked the jurors for completing the “difficult and stressful task.”

Their identities had been kept secret throughout proceedings, a rare practice more often seen in cases involving mafia or other violent defendants.

– Election conspiracy –

Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election, when her claim to have had sex with him could have proved fatal to his campaign.

The trial featured lengthy testimony from the adult performer, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who described to the court in graphic detail what she says was a 2006 sexual encounter with the married Trump.

Prosecutors successfully laid out a case alleging that the hush money and the illegal covering up of the payment was part of a broader crime to prevent voters from knowing about Trump’s behaviour.

Trump’s defence attorneys had countered that “trying to influence an election” was simply “democracy” and that the former president did nothing wrong.

– Campaigning in courthouse –

The trial has distracted Trump from his campaign to unseat Biden.

However, he milked the media attention throughout, with daily speeches in front of the cameras outside the courtroom in which he complained about being a political victim.

Yet after teasing the prospect for weeks, Trump — who denied ever having sex with Daniels at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament — opted not to testify.

Keith Gaddie, a political analyst and professor at Texas Christian University, said the political impact of the shocking events has yet to be determined.

“It probably doesn’t move a lot of votes, but in particular states with particular swing votes, it could matter around the margins. So in particularly tight races, it can tip things back from one direction to the other,” she said.

The Republican, who made his name as a brash real estate mogul before a stunning ascent to the nation’s highest office in the 2016 election, now faces prison or, more likely, probation.

In theory, he could face up to four years in jail for each count of falsifying business records but legal experts said as a first-time offender he is unlikely to go behind bars.

An appeal could take months to complete.

Should he win the presidency he will not be able to pardon himself, given that the case was not brought by the federal government but by the state of New York, where only the governor could clear his name.

Trump also faces federal and state charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Biden, and for hoarding secret documents after leaving the White House.

AFP

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Middle East

Iran’s President, Raisi, Others, Die in Helicopter Crash

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Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has died after a helicopter carrying him and other officials crashed in a mountainous and forested area of the country in poor weather.

The 63-year-old, a figure representing conservative and hardline factions in Iranian politics, was president for nearly three years, and appeared on track to run for re-election next year.

A former chief justice, Raisi was touted as a potential successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 85-year-old supreme leader of Iran.

He promised revenge against Israel after it levelled Tehran’s consulate building in Syria and killed seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two generals.

And he welcomed Iran’s response, which was to launch hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel, most of which were shot down by a coalition of Israeli allies – but left Iran claiming an overall success.

Raisi was born in Mashhad in northeastern Iran, a religious hub for Shia Muslims. He underwent religious education and was trained at the seminary in Qom, studying under prominent scholars, including Khamenei.

Also like the supreme leader, he wore a black turban, which signified that he was a sayyid – a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, a status with particular significance among Twelver Shia Muslims.

Aljazeera

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