FOS11 Newsletter, Volume #2, Issue #12November 2003

Welcome | Issues Update | Upcoming Events | Resources | Contact Us | Donate

Families of September 11 is now operating as the For Action Initiative. The web pages on this site are available for informational purposes only. Please visit us at www.foractioninitiative.org.

Welcome

Families of September 11 knows that the holiday season is a difficult one for those who have lost loved ones and survived trauma.  We are dedicated to providing you with information and connections to other affected families, and in that vein, want to facilitate the sharing of ideas and suggestion about how to cope.  Please let us know how you prepare yourself for the holidays and deal with the challenges that this period of time presents.  Next month we will share your insight with other members.  Send your responses to http://info@familiesofseptember11.org

The November issue of the Families of September 11 newsletter offers updates on important 9/11 family issues, programs and resources to support you and your family, and upcoming deadline information and family events.  One important thing for everyone to keep in mind is the upcoming Victim Compensation Fund deadline (December 22nd), by which date you will have to make a decision whether or not to file for the fund.  PLEASE do not let this deadline go by without taking action, one way or the other.  See below for more information.  Even though it is an extremely difficult decision, it is one you unfortunately must make.  We wish you luck and strength.

Issues Update

9/11 Commission Update
Release of White House Documents
In the past weeks, you might have noticed more reports in the press regarding the Independent Commission charged (by law) with investigating all that led up to and happened on September 11, 2001.  The Chairman (Governor Kean) and Vice-Chairman (Rep. Hamilton) made a public call, specifically aimed at the Bush Administration, for more cooperation and for the release of important documents that are vital to the work of the Commission.  In particular, the commissioners are concerned that they are not receiving access to President Bush’s Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs), nor to information given to the National Security Agency (led by Dr. Condaleezza Rice) before September 11th.  One method the commissioners considered to gain access to these documents was the use of subpoenas, something Families of September 11 fully supports.

Just last week, the Commission announced that it had reached an agreement with the White House regarding access to the PDBs.  The details of the agreement have not been released; however, the following outlines what we do know about the agreement –
• Two commissioners will have full access to all the Clinton and Bush Administration PDBs;
• Two other commissioners will have access to PDBs determined relevant to September 11th by the Bush White House;
• The four commissioners may share what they learn with the rest of the commission, but there are reports that the notes of the four commissioners can be edited or reviewed by the White House before they are shared.  In addition, the information gained from the PDBs may be used in the Commission’s report, but may not be cited as being from the PDBs.
There has been much in the press over the last few days regarding the agreement, including an opinion letter in the Washington Post written by Kean and Hamilton (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43055-2003Nov14.html).  Families of September 11 remains very concerned about this agreement and specifically calls for the immediate release of the full and final written agreement between the Commission and the White House, as well as full access by all ten commissioners to ALL relevant information – including the PDBs.  All ten commissioners have the highest security clearance.  Therefore, there is no reason for them to be denied anything short of direct, unfettered, and unfiltered access to all requested documents.

Hearings Scheduled For Wednesday, November 19 in New York Area
Families of September 11 members are encouraged to attend the 9/11 Commission Public hearing on "Emergency Preparedness" at Drew University on Wednesday, Nov. 19.  For more information on the hearing, visit http://www.9-11commission.gov.  There will be a van at the train station in Madison running continuously to take people to and from the station. It will run from 9am to 11 a.m. and 5 - 6:30 pm. The van will be in the parking lot on the town hall side of the station.

We Need Your Help!
As survivors and family members of victims, we know the price of terrorist attacks.  Without our support, it is possible the Commission might fall short. We must insist that the Independent Commission find and report answer to these (among other) questions.  What evidence exists relating to everything known about the highjackers and their activities, plans, handlers and financiers?  What is the information contained in that evidence and what are its implications?  What of this evidence and its information did our government officials (including our president), employees and independent contractors have or should they have had before September 11, 2001?  And what did they do with the knowledge they acquired from that evidence?

Families of September 11 will keep you informed of the Commission’s progress.  Most importantly, we hope to help all those who wish to get involved do just that.  If you are willing to help please email your contact information (email address and phone number) to http://www.info@familiesofseptember11.org.  All those who are interested will receive information on how to contact your legislators and let them know how important this Commission’s work is.  If we need to advocate for more time for the Commission, we will need the help of families coast to coast. 

Remember, if you want to help in our effort to ensure the validity and thoroughness of the Independent Commission, in either a large or small way, please send an email to http://www.info@familiesofseptember11.org.  Thank you for taking the energy to make our country safer by identifying and fixing the problems that allowed these attacks to happen.

Legislative Update
Feinberg Forum

In late October the New York City Bar hosted a Forum with Mr. Feinberg as the guest speaker.  A number of important issues were discussed, including concerns about the trial lawyers.  Mr. Feinberg repeatedly stated that December 22, 2003 is the deadline-any applications submitted after this date will not be accepted.  Even though there are 3 bills currently in Congress asking for an extension of this deadline, Families of September 11 is reluctant to believe any will be passed before Congress adjourns.  Congress must approve any extension - Mr. Feinberg cannot extend the deadline. 

If you have any questions about the Fund's process, eligibility requirements, or if you are in need of an attorney, you can also call the Fund at 888-714-3385.  For international callers, call collect at:  212-625-1645.  If you need a copy of Part A only (remember, filing Part A without signing the form protects your rights and does not automatically put you into the Fund, but it does satisfy the Dec 22 deadline) you can download it at:  http://www.usdoj.gov/victimcompensation/forms_deceased.html.

Mzoudi Hamburg Trial
The second German terrorist trial, this time against Abdelghani Mzoudi, a member of the Hamburg cell, before the Hanseatic [Hamburg] State Supreme Court is nearing its end.

The presiding judge decided that interrogation of witnesses will end this month, followed by final briefings. The closing statements by the prosecution and by the defense are scheduled for November 20 through November 27. One day will be set aside for appearances and statements by 9/11 families.

The Court has designated an attorney, Andreas Schulz, as the legal spokesman for the 9/11 families. (This is somewhat like the US procedure where the families are represented by the chairman or cochairman of a Plaintiffs Steering Committee.) He will be assisted by another attorney: Ulrich von Jeinsen. They will now coordinate with other attorneys representing 9/11 families their clients appearances to make closing statements.

The first trial against Mounir El-Mottassadeq ended with his conviction and a jail sentence of 15 years. In his sentencing statement the Court mentioned that the families’ personal appearances and presentations put a human face on the trial and contributed to their imposing the maximum jail term.

The present proceedings became more complicated when the chairman of the German CIA testified that the planning for 9/11 was actually done in Afghanistan. He questioned the existence a "Hamburg Cell." However, despite this unexpected testimony, the court denied the motion by the defense to release Mzoudi from jail - and decided to continue the trial to judgment. Furthermore, Andreas Schulz, the designated 9/11 families attorney filed a motion for the appearance of three additional witnesses, among them the Minister of Interior (Attorney General) of Germany to refute testimony of the German CIA.  We will continue to monitor and report on this important trial.

LMDC Update
Eight designs have been selected for the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan.  The LMDC will unveil the designs and announce the names of the finalists at a press conference on Wednesday, November 19th at the Winter Garden.  The designs will be on display for several weeks.  They can also be viewed on the LMDC web site.  In facilitated sessions in and around New York and through its web site, Imagine New York (http://www.imagineny.org) will solicit input from families and others interested in expressing opinions.  The workshops will feature an optional visit to the exhibit of the final designs at the Winter Garden, followed by a two-hour roundtable workshop discussion. They will take place Nov. 20, 21, and 22.

If you would like to participate in a workshop, please call the Imagine NY hotline at 212-750-3972. Once the plans have been released, you will also be able to submit your comments online at their website, http://www.imagineny.org.  A final design is expected to be selected in late December or early January.

In other news, a ceremony will take place on Sunday, November 23rd to mark the reopening of the Exchange Place PATH station, which will run directly to the station located on the site of the former WTC. Governors Pataki and McGreevy are expected to make brief remarks.  We know this is a difficult topic for many people, given that so many remains were found on these tracks.  Remember to avoid media and publicity if you feel you may react negatively to this development.

September 11th Fund – Enrollment Deadline Approaching
The September 11th Fund will be closing enrollment for two of its programs for displaced workers.  People must be certified eligible and be enrolled by programs by January 31, 2003.  Services may be delivered for up to one year after the deadline.  The programs affected by this deadline are the Employment Assistance Program (Career counseling, skill development/training, etc.) and the Health Care Program (free health coverage for displaced workers for one year).  To determine your eligibility, call the September 11th Support Hotline at 1-866-689-4357.

To work with someone one-on-one to help you develop a long-term recovery plan tailored to your special situation, call the September 11th Support Hotline at 1-866-689-4357 and request a Service Coordinator.

Financial Planning
The Financial Planning Association is available to talk or advise families or individuals impacted by 9/11.  There are more than 300 financial planners who are helping people completely free of charge.  If you want information about any financial management topics, please contact Clara Lipson, Director of Pro Bono Services, Financial Planning Association, toll-free by phone at 1-800-322-4237 ext. 7147 or by e-mail at http://www.clara.lipson@fpanet.org

Upcoming Events

Pathway to Tomorrows: First Forum for WTC Families, Survivors, Residents and Airlines
Families of September 11, Inc. and September's Mission hosted an open dialogue on Tuesday, November 11 with WTC survivors, residents, and airline employees and families.  The purpose of the meeting was to reach out to others who have been affected by the events of 9/11 and constituents who feel they have been largely ignored by the post 9/11 process. The panel of 9/11 family members, corporate and government agency survivors, downtown residents and airline personnel shared experiences, defined common ground, and explored possibilities for the future. The discussion was followed by Q & A and included 125 participants. If you are interested in learning more about the outcomes from the forum, please contact Louise Lo Presti by phone at 917-207-5393 or by email http://www.louiselopresti@msn.com.

Massachusetts: NYC Medical Examiner’s Event
There was a family meeting scheduled with representatives from the New York City Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday, November 13, 2003, from 5:30PM to 8:30PM.  The event was held at the Tage Inn in Somerville, MA.  All family members are encouraged to please contact Linda Plazonja by email at plazonjal@gtlaw.com for any information or questions if they missed the event.

VCF: Critical Choices Forums
The following list includes the last round of Critical Choice forums that will be conducted before the December 22 deadline for filing for the Federal Victims’ Compensation Fund. Please read all location choices to find the forum closest to you.  To RSVP, call 1-800-FYI-CALL.  A light meal will be served.

Arlington, VA: Sheraton Crystal City, 1800 Jefferson Dais Highway, Arlington, VA 22202
Friday, November 21, 2003, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn College Student Center, 2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11210
Monday, November 24, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Baltimore, MD: Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel, 903 Dulaney Valley Road, Baltimore, MD 21204
Wednesday, December 3, 2003, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

For more information, please visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s website at: http://www.ncvc.org.

FOS11 Programs – Family Wilderness Hike set for November 23rd
Families of September 11 and the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center invite all families and friends to join us for our second free family hike.  The hike will take place at Harriman State Park, in Bear Mountain, New York, on November 23rd.  Our last hike was a huge success – family members were able to hike, walk along the beach, and observe bald eagles, barn owls, pythons, and even a millipede from Madagascar!  If you would like to learn more about the upcoming hike or register your family (all ages are welcome - as well as beginners!), please contact Paige Panzner, our program director, by phone at 212-575-1878 or email at http://www.ppanzner@familiesofseptember11.org

FOX Television: New Series Offering “Full Life Makeover” For Women
FOX Television is presently developing a new television series called, “The Swan,” from FremantleMedia NA, the producers of American Idol.  Producers are currently seeking contestants for the show through live and videotaped auditions.  Female contestants, age 22-38, will be chosen based on the compelling nature of their life stories and the obstacles and challenges they have faced.  Episodes will be shot in early 2004, culminating in the presentation of their achievements to a live audience.  The show offers participants a “dream makeover” and helps them to achieve their dreams – utilizing a holistic approach.  To learn more about this opportunity, please visit the following website: http://www.swancasting.com, or call 1-866-479-2688. 

9/11 Commission Public Hearing: Emergency Preparedness
The 9/11 Commission will hold a public hearing on "Emergency Preparedness" at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey on November 19, 2003. The Commission periodically holds public hearings to offer a public dialogue about the Commission's goals and priorities. The Commission also seeks to learn about work already completed and the state of current knowledge, in order to identify the most important issues and questions requiring further investigation.  For more information about the hearing and the work of the 9/11 Commission, please visit http://www.9-11commission.gov/hearings/index.htm

Christmas Tree to be placed at Ground Zero
Following the events of September 11th, many of the recovery workers (union workers, PAPD, FDNY, NYPD, volunteers, etc.) sought to honor the victims lost.  Their efforts culminated with the dedication of the Victims Tree, a 36ft. Christmas tree placed at Ground Zero.  The tree was decorated with 3,000 white lights and paper angels with victims’ names, which were donated by school children.  This year another tree will be placed at the site.  If you would like to send an ornament in honor of a victim, please send it to the following address:  Victims Tree/50 Stockbridge Road/ Yonkers, NY 10710.  If you would like to learn more about this project, please view http://www.digiviews.com/victims/ or call 914-965-7937.

Resources

Bereavement/Recovery Programs
Schneider Children's Hospital Bereavement Program
The Center for HOPE (Healing, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Enlightenment) at Schneider Children’s Hospital was created to provide a place of healing where children, adolescents and their families can come together in their journey of grief.  The Center for HOPE offers program intended to meet the needs of the entire family through developmentally age-appropriate groups and short-term individual counseling. All these services are provided free of charge.  For more information, please call (718/516) 470-3132.

NYU Bereavement Program
The New York University Child Study Center Silver Shield Foundation Bereavement Program provides bereavement services to widows and children whose spouse and parent was a member of the fire department, police, port authority or EMS killed in the attacks of 9/11.  All services are provided through the New York University Child Study Center with licensed clinical psychologists trained in trauma and bereavement.  Evaluations can be conducted in the home or at a nearby counseling office, and treatment can be provided at one of the locations in the New York metropolitan area or near home.  For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (212) 263-2757.

Tuesday’s Children: Creative Insight for Parents and Spouses
‘Taking the Next Step’ is an exciting and fun life management workshop which helps you tap into your full creative potential to lead a more satisfying and fulfilling life.  One widow that participated in the program shared the following feedback, “Our lives cannot be fixed – but we each have the opportunity to create a life that is meaningful for us.  Creative Insight taught us many ways to do just that in a safe and supportive environment.  Through this workshop and the work of our facilitators and coaches, we found a bit of light shining through that dark tunnel.” For more information about the program and to learn how this workshop can be brought to your community, please contact Tuesday’s Children at (516) 652-9000 or email at www.tuesdayschildren.org.

Community Remembrance Service Program (Throughout the US)
‘Putting the Joy Back into Your Holidays’ is a community seminar / holiday remembrance service that can be hosted by your organization. Dr. Judy Davidson will provide an educational program about grief that will help participants understand grief as a process as well as prepare for the holidays.  For more information, please contact Dr. Judy Davidson at (859) 986-7878.

Legal Assistance
TLC contact information/VCF

If anyone is having problems or questions with Trial Lawyers regarding the Victim’s Compensation Fund, you can contact Sandra Cuneo at (917) 464-0105 or visit their website at http://911lawhelp.org.

Scholarship Opportunities
CUNY Scholarship/Foundation information

The ING DIRECT Kids Foundation has set aside $167,000 (plus possible future contributions) to be distributed as scholarships to part-time CUNY students who had a parent killed or severely injured in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Full-time students affected by the 9/11 attack are covered by a New York State program. The ING DIRECT scholarship will be available to students who, in addition to having been affected by the attacks, also meet the University’s admissions criteria for matriculated undergraduate standing, who attend one of the colleges part-time and who demonstrate financial need.  An eligible student who remains in good academic standing may receive funds for a maximum of 10 semesters. The University will set the award amounts, based on its regular financial aid calculations.
http://www1.cuny.edu/portal_ur/content/2003/ing.html  

Families of Freedom, Scholarship Fund
The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is designed to provide education assistance for post-secondary education to legal dependents of those people killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks or rescue activities on September 11, 2001.  The Fund will primarily benefit children and spouses of the following groups: airplane crew and passengers, World Trade Center workers and visitors, Pentagon workers and visitors, and rescue workers, including firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and law enforcement personnel.  If you believe you are eligible for a scholarship, please call: Call 1-877-862-0136 or visit http://www.familiesoffreedom.org/index.php3.

Additional Resources
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has reached an agreement with the City of New York that will allow NIST to review additional information related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  For more information a comprehensive Web site on the NIST World Trade Center investigation is available at http://wtc.nist.gov.

Chemical Sensitivity Foundation Information
For more information about the chemical sensitivity connection to breathing the toxic fumes from the World Trade Center Fires, please visit www.chemicalsensitvityfoudnation.org or call (207) 725-8570.

Remember. Honor. Hope.
FOS11 offers a wrist band, in hope for a better future. Click here to learn more.

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General information: 212-575-1878


 
Families of September 11 (FOS11) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded by families of those who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Membership is open to anyone affected by the events of September 11, 2001. More than 2,400 people worldwide have chosen to join us.



Families of September 11 is an accredited charity and is a member of the Seal Program, which indicates that our organization has met the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. For more information about the Standards, please visit the BBB of Metro New York's website at http://www.newyork.bbb.org/.

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