Wednesday, September 14, 2005

NYT: Spotlight articles by Eric Lichtblau and Edmund L. Andrews

American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark," according to previously secret portions of a report prepared last year by the Sept. 11 commission. The officials also realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used in the hijackings had suffered repeated security lapses.
Federal Aviation Administration officials were also warned in 2001 in a report prepared for the agency that airport screeners' ability to detect possible weapons had "declined significantly" in recent years, but little was done to remedy the problem, the Sept. 11 commission found.
The White House and many members of the commission, which has completed its official work, have been battling for more than a year over the release of the commission's report on aviation failures, which was completed in August 2004.

The above is from Eric Licthblau's "F.A.A. Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said" in this morning's New York Times and Zach, Keesha, Tori, Eli, Ty and Marci all e-mail to say this is a spotlight story that people need to be aware of.

Also receiving high marks from the community for reporting is Edmund L. Andrews' "Blacks Hit Hardest by Costlier Mortgages:"

Regardless of income levels, blacks were about three times as likely as whites to borrow through more expensive "subprime" mortgages last year, according to a nationwide lending survey released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve.
The new report, based on data collected from 8,853 lenders, is the Fed's first attempt to look for evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination in the booming business in exotic mortgages and subprime lending.
Among low-income homebuyers, about 39.2 percent of blacks but only 12.9 percent of whites took out high-priced mortgages, which the Fed defined as loans with interest rates about 2 percentage points higher than those for "prime" customers with good credit.
For buyers of a $200,000 house last year, that would have meant about $3,000 extra in annual interest payments.

Brandon e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Sweet Victory: Celebrating ACORN" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

The events of the past two weeks have laid bare America's secret: that poverty abounds in this profoundly unequal nation. As the body count in New Orleans rises, it has become abundantly clear that the plight of America's poor--who have suffered particularly harsh setbacks in the past three decades--is nothing short of an epidemic. Yet throughout this era of rollbacks and blind-eye politics, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) has tirelessly fought back on behalf of our nation's other half. This week, we offer a special Sweet Victory tribute to a fearless organization that has long stood on the forefront of the movement for economic justice.
In 1970,
Wade Rathke arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas, and organized a drive to help welfare recipients attain clothing and furniture. Months later, the Arkansas Community Organization for Reform Now--a broad-based coalition that had grown out of Rathke's early efforts--was taking on Arkansas Power and Light, one of the state's largest corporate players. ACORN demanded compensation for local farmers whose livelihoods were endangered by AP&L's plans for a new power plant. After months of organized pressure from ACORN, AP&L backed down and dropped the plans altogether.
A decade later, ACORN had expanded into twenty different states and was creating national headlines with its nine-point "
People's Platform" and squatting campaign, which hammered the issue of affordable housing into the national discourse. Throughout the 1980s and '90s, ACORN fought vigilantly against insurance redlining--a practice that, thanks largely to ACORN's efforts, is now illegal--and helped secure housing for thousands of low-income individuals.

Brandon also has some favorable comments on a documentary that will go up here but they'll have to wait (my apologies to Brandon). They'll be up by Saturday (and hopefully they'll be up tonight).

The e-mail address for this site is (Note to Eddie, I'll also try to address the article you've written about tonight. My apologies for the delay.)