December 2nd - December 9th, 2005
Airline Restrictions to Loosen
Friday, December 2: As of December 22, airline passengers will be allowed to carry small scissors and sharp tools into the airplane cabin with them, the Associated Press reported.
Under the new changes from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers will now be allowed to pack scissors less than four inches long and tools less than seven inches long in their carry-on luggage. The new changes are meant to free up TSA security personnel so that they can focus the majority of their time on finding improvised bombs and explosives, AP said.
Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts plans to file legislation to preserve the current restrictions and is being backed by the Association of Flight Attendants and Southwest Airlines flight attendants' union, Transport Workers Local 556, AP explained. Some relatives of 9/11 victims also opposed the change, according to AP.
The TSA considers bombs to be a greater threat than objects thanks to additional security measures put in place since 9/11, including bullet-proof cockpit doors, air marshals on flights, and armed pilots, AP added.
WTC Builder Silverstein Under Pressure
Friday, December 2: Larry Silverstein, the developer who holds the rights to build on the 16-acre World Trade Center site, is being pressured by New York City, State, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to cede part of the property so that rebuilding efforts can proceed more rapidly, the New York Times reported.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia has suggested that Silverstein move forward with construction of the Freedom Tower and one other building while ceding the rest back to the authority in exchange for a reduction in his rent, which is scheduled to increase to $12 million a month in January, the Times reported. Silverstein has maintained that he is best suited to rebuild the entire site, but under the current schedule, the last of the five office towers wouldn't be completed for more than a decade, the Times added.
Currently Silverstein is engaged in discussions with the city over his request for $3.35 billion in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds to finance the planned office towers. The city is seeking to impose an aggressive construction schedule that would ensure that the bonds are used before they expire in 2009, the Times said.
WTC Memorial Manager Sought
Tuesday, December 6: The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, in cooperation with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), issued a request for proposals to manage the memorial and museum at Ground Zero. The manager will be responsible for ensuring that the construction begins early next year and stays on schedule and within budget, the New York Times reported.
Port Authority Seeks Repeal of Bombing Verdict
Wednesday, December 7: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is asking that the trial verdict finding it negligent in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombings be thrown out, asserting that the judge, Justice Nicholas Figueroa of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, was biased from the beginning of the trial and predisposed the jury against the authority, the Associated Press and New York Times reported.
"The verdict stemmed directly from the court's jury instructions and verdict sheet interrogatories that violated the Port Authority's fundamental right to a fair trial," according to the Port Authority's motion filed Monday, the AP reported.
The jury assigned 68 percent of the blame for the attack on the authority, said the Times, which the lawyers for the authority found reprehensible, stating in the motion, "One would think that a verdict condemning the Port Authority as the primary culprit and diminishing the culpability of such prolific terrorists as Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman could only be the product of a jury hijacked by Al Qaeda sympathizers."
However, the plaintiffs seek to keep the verdict based on an internal report from the authority that clearly stated that the basement garage could become an intended bombing target and that precautions should be taken, the Times reported.
The filing of this motion is an initial step on behalf of the authority to file an appeal, the Times added.
A Piece of History Unearthed
Thursday, December 8: Workers digging a subway tunnel for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) under Battery Park came across what is possibly the oldest standing wall in New York City. Archaeologists believe it to be a piece of the original gun battery for which the park is named, the New York Times reported.
According to the New York Daily News, the wall is thought to be about seven feet wide, 40 feet long, and 300 years old. Workers also came across a rare half-penny coin dated 1744 and multiple pipe stems. "It may be one of the most important archeological finds in the city in years, perhaps in decades," New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe told the Daily News.
In past cases of unearthing artifacts of archaeological interest in Lower Manhattan, at least parts of the remains were kept and preserved, stated the Times.
The finding could impact construction taking place now to build a section of a tunnel connecting the No. 1 train to a new South Ferry subway terminal, though the extent to which it might is not known. "It's premature to discuss this thing at all, other than to say that we have made this find and we are protecting it," MTA spokesman Tom Kelly told the Times.