This isn’t “a very complicated subject,” as President Donald Trump called it. And yes, there is reason to get “all bent out of shape” about this, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is not.
The future of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for first responders and other survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks lies in the hands of Trump and McConnell. So, let’s set the record straight.
The fund is running out of money. Very soon, those who’ve gotten sick because they ran into the horror, worked on the pile or lived in the area won’t be able to pay their medical bills. Others who become sick won’t be able to file claims as of December 2020. So, once again, police officers, firefighters and others are begging Congress for help.
That included retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez, who, just after dragging his gaunt, weary body to Washington to testify, entered hospice care and stopped treatment for his advanced cancer. His cancer is diagnosed as likely to be caused by the pulverized dust at Ground Zero that thousands of first responders like him breathed in after 9/11.
It’s horrifying that he had to make his case.
Never forgetting shouldn’t take any more meetings. And it’s not complicated.
Trump and McConnell have the power to stop this ridiculous, demeaning charade. On Tuesday, McConnell met with first responders and apparently promised to call a vote by August. Now he has to deliver. Both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate should permanently authorize the compensation fund so that those who are sick and dying don’t have to beg anymore. Don’t wait. Don’t debate. Don’t tell us, “We’ll see what happens,” as Trump did last weekend.
Put a picture of Luis Alvarez on every Congress member’s desk. Then vote.
Tech firms face backlash
The backlash keeps building against giant U.S. tech firms over their lack of candor on privacy issues, their slowness to respond to Russian propaganda on their platforms and their indifference to the growing evidence that the digital era is taking a severe toll on the mental health of middle and high school students and young adults.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s tart and dismissive responses to critics in recent years reflect denial or arrogance or both.
Against this backdrop, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent commencement speech at Stanford stands out for its frankness. After first citing all the tech breakthroughs that originated in the Silicon Valley, Cook went on to say “lately, it seems, this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation: the belief that you can claim credit without accepting responsibility. We see it every day now, with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech. ... Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes. ... But if you’ve built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.” Cook went on to say Apple would put more of a premium on online privacy than ever.
Given that Apple’s business model profits from the aggregation of personal data — both directly and indirectly — it’s easy to be cynical about Cook’s comments. But the first step in solving problems is acknowledging they exist.
— The San Diego Union-Tribune