Friday, March 12, 2010

Reclaiming Our Children

In his indispensable new book, Reclaiming Our Children, much-honored author/lecturer/social critic Robby Dixon explores crucial questions – and offers penetrating answers and prescriptions – few before him have even thought to ask, about imprisonment (and our prison systems) in America, about socio-psychologico-spiritual dynamics that have led so many of our youth to incarceration… and most importantly, about how parents can proactively inoculate children against the forces that lead to imprisonment and contribute to the genesis of a national shift away from mass soul-and-actual confinement, to a new, spreading paradigm of material productivity and spiritual liberty.

Where does imprisonment really begin? Dixon asks. Long before the iron doors slam behind a person, he avers. In fact, Dixon says, incarceration’s start is three-leveled – and begins in the mind and heart in ways that if not prevented virtually ensure that a child with a “pre-imprisoned” mind and spirit will eventually end up behind bars. Such spiritual incarceration begins as a child’s moved by the power of images received from unsuspected sources. Dixon clearly identifies these and gives parents incisive guidance about how to deal with them and replace their harm by teaching children the vital significance of the most priceless image of all: the image of God in which human personhood is made. Only from such understanding, Dixon persuasively argues, will a child develop an accurate and spirit-mind-saving sense of true self-worth.

Dixon writes unabashedly from a Judeo-Christian perspective (while not denigrating the value of other spiritual “ways”), reasoning that if knowledge of the importance of one’s being made in the image of God is central to spiritual and personal growth, it makes little sense to excise all reference to and reliance on God from America’s social fabric. He concludes this landmark work by laying out a powerful, comprehensive, God-based vision for replacement of outworn cultural and sociological expressions, institutions and practices with humankind-nation-nourishing mass and individual thought and action that will amount to nothing less than national “repentance” and renewal.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Mike Douglas Show (with singer Tony Martin), 1967

Martin Luther King Jr Interview (Part 1,2 and 3)

Amy Winehouse Clothing Line

Controversial songstress Amy Winehouse is the latest in a string of celebrities to launch her own clothing line. Winehouse has created a 17-piece women’s wear line with British fashion house Fred Perr – the first of four collections – to be released in October.

The collection includes “dangerously short” pencil skirts and “punk-inspired” Capri pants, as well as polo shirts, jumper dresses and Harrington jackets.

“Collars are most definitely raised and ready for action. And yet for every tomboy twist there’s a deeply feminine twirl,” a brand spokesman said Thursday. “It’s Amy all over – sharp, clever, sexy, lots of attitude – but stays true to the Perry aesthetic and unrivalled heritage.”

The line — which will retail for $32 and $150 — will be sold at Fred Perry shops and in department stores across North America and Europe.

New Jersey Muslim in custody after al Qaeda (Islamic Centcom) Shootout in Yemen (video)

Millions, aka "a tiny minority," are jet-setting around the globe while we whet nurse the jihad.

Mom says son is a “good Muslim.”

Creeping From AP, FBI looking into NJ man linked to attack in Yemen:

BUENA, N.J. — The FBI is investigating the case of an alleged al-Qaida member from New Jersey who’s accused of trying to shoot his way out of a hospital in Yemen.

FBI spokesman Rich Wolf in Baltimore confirmed Thursday that the agency is looking into the case of 26-year-old Sharif Mobley of Buena but wouldn’t comment further.

Security and hospital officials in Yemen told The Associated Press over the weekend that an al-Qaida prisoner receiving treatment in the Republican Hospital in San’a attacked the guards while trying to escape.

Hospital officials said the patient snatched a gun from one of his guards, shot at them and fled. Security forces chased the prisoner and apprehended him. Their smoke grenades set a small fire in the hospital.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

More from the South Jersey Courier-Post, FBI: South Jersey man suspected of terror plot in Yemen:

BUENA — Federal authorities in the Middle East have taken into custody a 26-year-old Buena resident they believe is an al-Qaida operative, a South Jersey television station reported Wednesday evening.

UPDATE: Tonight it was reported that he worked at a New Jersey nuclear plant.

Obama to delay departure for Asia trip

President Obama will leave for Indonesia three days later than planned, departing March 21 rather than March 18, in an effort to move stalled health-care legislation through Congress, the White House said.

Why African-Americans are more optimistic despite fewer jobs

Ron Fedd, center, a resource room specialist at the Workforce Plus employment office, assists client Matin Washington as he uses the computer to look for jobs and send out applications, Friday, Jan. 22, 2010, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida's unemployment rate reached 11.8 percent according to reports released today.(AP Photo/Phil Coale)

According to a recent survey by Experian, African-American consumption grew by over 50 percent from the year 2000 to 2008 ($590 billion to $913 billion), and it is expected to grow to over $1.2 trillion dollars by the year 2013. The study also shows that blacks are more economically optimistic than whites, with 36 percent of us stating that we expect our financial future to improve, as opposed to 31 percent for all adults.

The Experian study says a couple of things: First, it says that black people love to consume and that we are getting better at it. In fact, black people have historically been very good at buying things and working hard to get them, but we are not very good at production, investment and saving our money. We grab our tax refunds and run to the mall. We become highly paid corporate lawyers in order to purchase the house and car we really can't afford. We are chubby kids in the economic candy store, accelerating our collective addiction to the monetary engines controlled by corporate greed.

The extraordinary optimism of black consumers is surprising in light of the disturbing state of black joblessness. African-American unemployment still stands at well over 16 percent, with black male unemployment faring even worse. In spite of having relatively abysmal economic circumstances, black people have reason to be optimistic when compared with whites. The outlook differential is primarily due to the fact that we're still climbing our way out of hundreds of years of staunch oppression. As a result of this oppression, many African-Americans are first-generation college students, bringing upward mobility to their families and sharing the spoils of their success.

In fact, according to a survey at UCLA, 62.9 percent of African-American college students are first-generation, compared with only 13.2 percent of whites. When you've spent so much time at the bottom of the financial ladder, almost every new position is better than the one you had before. Additionally, first-generation students are more likely to go to college to study in fields with higher salaries, such as business and engineering.

The question here is "What do we do with all this buying and spending power?" As I write in my book, Black American Money, African-Americans must learn the value of financial capital and redefine our perception of how money is to be used. The cash in your bank account is not simply meant to be re-donated to the local Wal-Mart. It is intended for the creation of ownership opportunities which allow you to have greater control of your economic and social destiny.

Most importantly, money is power. By bringing together our collective buying power for the pursuit of meaningful political objectives, African-Americans can dig into a gold mine of influence that is both untapped and unprecedented. We can liberate black men from the modern day slavery of the prison system by not buying products from corporations which operate on prison labor. We can support outstanding charter schools like Urban Prep Academy in Chicago, which sent 100 percent of its African-American male senior class to college. We can help our Historically Black Colleges break free from their financial strangulation.

There are many more things we can do with our trillion dollar impact that go beyond buying the next pair of Air Jordans. Black consumption and economic optimism must translate into something more meaningful if we are to realize our true potential. There's really no way around it.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition

Inner City School Gets 100% of Its Black Men in to College

There is one public, all-male, all–African American high school in the city of Chicago called "The Urban Prep Academy for Young Men," located in Englewood. The school recently got the attention of Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools Chief Ron Huberman, when they were able to get all of their 107 seniors accepted in to 72 different colleges across the country.

Huberman had this to say:

"All of you in the senior class have shown that what matters is perseverance, what matters is focus, what matters is having a dream and following that dream."

I spoke with Evan Lewis, the school's Vice President for Institutional Advancement. He argues that getting the students in to college is not the only goal, but that getting them through college is what matters.

"We are not just committed to getting our students through high school, we are committed to getting them through college. We are going to be a constant presence in their lives and give them the support that a lot of folks don't have when they go to college."

The school has a very strict dress code, consisting of black blazers, khaki pants and a red tie. The red tie is swapped out for a gold one once the student is accepted in to college. When one student, Rayvaughn Hines, was asked which college he was accepted to, he said, "Do you want me to name them all?"

Hines, a student who once thought college wasn't made for him, has chosen to become a Morehouse man. He cherished the moment when he switched out his red tie for a gold one.

"I wanted to take my time, because I was just so proud of myself," he said. "I wanted everyone to see me put it on."

Urban Prep has a unique set of hurdles. It is in a troubled part of the city, and only 4 percent of the incoming freshmen could read at grade level. With hard work and persistence, the students who could not read at grade level four years ago are now on their way to college.

"I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal," said Tim King, the school's founder and CEO. "Every single person we hired knew from the day one that this is what we do: We get our kids in to college."

From the day the students enter high school, they are prepared for the next step. They have a college counselor from day one, and their first field trip is a visit to Northwestern University. Their school day is longer than that of students who attend other schools. The school's voice mail has a student saying, "I am college bound," before the caller is able to dial an extension.

"These are the same guys who would have gone to traditional high schools and not enrolled in college had they not gone to Urban prep," said Vice President Lewis. "It's not rocket science. We work really hard and work really long hours. When you do that, you start to see results. We've instilled in them a belief in themselves and their ability and the willingness to do what it takes in order to be successful."

It was hard to write about Urban Prep without my eyes filling with tears. When I think back to my days as a high school student, when I truly believed that I wasn't smart enough to go to college, I become petrified. The memories frighten me, because I almost missed out on the chance to become Dr. Boyce Watkins. When someone kills your spirit and willingness to try, they have given a death sentence to your destiny.

What is also interesting is that Urban Prep is proving a critical truth that I've been screaming to my students for the past 17 years: When black males put the same intensity into academic achievement that we put into dribbling basketballs and throwing footballs, we are truly phenomenal. The young men at Urban Prep will have longer, more financially-rewarding careers than they would have had by pursuing their hoop dreams at the expense of everything else. They will also be well-positioned to be effective and relevant leaders in the 21st century. Being a great athlete can make you powerful, but being a great thinker makes you EMPOWERED. Power without empowerment is a recipe for social impotence (when's the last time you saw an athlete stand up for any kind of progressive social cause?)

Urban Prep certainly scores one point for charter schools. At the same time, President Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to learn lessons from Urban Prep and apply those lessons to every single school in the country. Urban Prep Academy should be given a massive budget to replicate its activities, since it has clearly shown a recipe for success. Additionally, the model of Urban Prep should be applied across the nation, because they are reminding us that when adults create an environment conducive for success, the children in that environment will always rise to the occasion.

You can watch the Urban Prep's 2009 Convocation below and get a whiff of the spirit and dedication they are bestowing on their students. I'm sure it will touch you and remind you that we are all capable of greatness. Show this to your children, show this to your neighborhood kids. Urban Prep Academy is breaking mental barriers and prescribed capabilities with each graduate they usher in to this big, bold world.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Chicago Man Dies After Being Tasered by Police

A Chicago man died early Wednesday morning after being subdued by police with a taser during a traffic stop. Jaesun Ingles, a 31-year old, was pronounced dead at MetroSouth Hospital in Blue Island at 12:31 am, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. The autopsy has been inconclusive.

Midlothian Police Lt. Harold Kaufman stated that the police used the taser to subdue Ingles. He then had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital. He was pulled over at 11 pm Tuesday night for several traffic violations, according to police.

The officer who pulled Ingles over smelled marijuana and found a small amount of it during a search. Officers claim that when they tried to arrest Ingles, he ran behind some local businesses and tried to swallow a plastic bag believed to have contained the drugs.

The police further state that after they caught up to Ingles on foot, he continued to resist arrest and was hit with a taser. That is when he had trouble breathing and emergency personnel were called. Kaufman did not know how many times Ingles was tasered and would not reveal department protocol for tasering situations. The public integrity unit is looking into the incident.

Police claim that several officers were injured in trying to subdue Ingles. One received treatment for a sprained wrist and injured shoulder, one for a knee injury and another for an injury to his right hand. Ingles was on parole for two Ohio convictions and was being supervised by Illinois corrections officials.

Ingles had been convicted in Ohio on charges of attempted felony assault and obstructing justice. He was serving his parole in Illinois through an interstate compact, according to Januari Smith, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The Jaesun Ingles case brings many thoughts to mind. Most evident is that the case does not appear to be conclusive. If the officers were treated for injuries, this serves as evidence that Ingles was resisting arrest. The problem, however, is that officers are well-aware that if you want to "cover your butt" after an incident in which a defendant is injured, you should go to the hospital and document any injuries you might have sustained. This does not imply that the officers are lying about their injuries, but a deeper investigation is certainly called for.

Additionally, even if Ingles was resisting arrest and running, he didn't deserve to die. This says that the Chicago police have a great deal of explaining to do. But as they explain, it should be remembered and considered that this might have just been a sad situation gone terribly bad. The officers may have just been doing their jobs, following protocol and faced with a defendant whose body responded to the taser in an unexpected way. Either way, we all deserve to hear the truth, so I am very interested in seeing how this case is resolved.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Bush’s Union Transparency Rules Retracted Under Obama

By Chuck Neubauer

The Obama administration promised increased transparency in government but has rolled back rules proposed by the Bush administration that expanded the financial disclosure statements required of labor unions and their leaders.

Since President Obama took office, the Labor Department has rescinded or delayed three sets of rules proposed by the George W. Bush administration that would have required unions and their leaders to more specifically detail their finances, according to a review of records by The Washington Times.

The rules were rolled back while the Obama administration was seeking more stringent regulation of corporate America, including banks, insurance companies, health care providers and publicly traded companies.

The proposed Bush rules would have required labor unions to identify from whom they were buying and selling assets, forced union leaders and employees to file more detailed conflict-of-interest forms, and required unions to reveal the finances of hundreds of so-called labor trusts - largely unregulated entities set up to provide benefits for members.

Get the full story here.

The Continuing Federal Land Grab

By Michael Swartz

The use and abuse of the Antiquities Act, legislation which dates back to the time of Teddy Roosevelt, is nothing new. While the bulk of the national monuments so created came in the first few decades after the Act’s 1906 adoption, the practice of creating them was again accelerated with President Carter creating 15 national monuments out of Alaskan territory in 1978. By doing so he throttled the resource development of these areas and angered local officials who wanted Washington’s hands off the land.

In recent times, the usage of Antiquities’ declarative power has been almost strictly a Democratic practice – by comparison, neither Ronald Reagan nor George H.W. Bush used the Antiquities Act in this manner during their terms and President George W. Bush did but twice. President Clinton established a total of 19 national monuments, mainly as he was preparing to leave office in 2001.

But a recently leaked internal memo from the Department of the Interior (DOI) detailing thirteen new prospective national monuments may show that President Obama is interested in continuing the recent liberal environmentalist practice of locking resource-rich lands away from development. In fact, this very reason is cited in the memo to preserve Colorado’s Vermillion Basin, a “unique high desert basin (which) is currently under threat of oil and gas development, which would forever alter the region.” Other areas are cited as “critical long-term movement corridors for…wildlife” or “pristine desert wilderness landscapes.”

Once word got out about the proposed land grab the DOI backtracked, calling the memo a product of a “brainstorming session.” But it shows the attitude that placing land off-limits to development and perhaps a higher and better usage is more important to some than the benefits the resources on or underneath the land may provide. The land hasn’t changed perceptively since the previous administration left the White House, but the bureaucrats who have been itching to turn the West back into the wilderness it once was by creating “migration corridors” or placing areas out of reach for human interaction had to wait until they had an ally in the White House to again make their move.

Needless to say, a number of Congressional representatives from western states are unhappy. Their cause was led by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, who is credited with making this DOI memo public.

Their biggest concern is the potential lost revenue for state and local governments, who already deal with the burden of hosting a huge percentage of federally-owned land within their borders. West of the Great Plains, the federal government owns at least 30 percent of the land mass in every state but Hawaii, with Nevada leading the way – the federal government owns over 4/5 of Silver State land. Aside from those twelve states, only three others have more than ten percent federally owned land with most of the rest checking in at five percent or less. Overall, Washington bureaucrats own about 30 percent of our total land mass but apparently would like to take millions more acres through Presidential mandate.

The DOI’s evaluation seemingly fails to ask how placing areas off-limits is going to affect job creation and local economies, and may not be considering the financial ramifications of taking care of the land once acquired. If areas have unique and wondrous features it’s doubtful that the public will want them to remain hidden from their view.

It seems the only thing hidden from public view is the process and perhaps that’s intentional, knowing the outcry from affected states and individual landowners would be deafening.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

The People Have Spoken!

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Rockefeller: Stopping Obamas Environmental End-Around

By Howard Rich

With the "science" of global warming collapsing like a house of cards, the Copenhagen "climate change" conference accomplishing absolutely nothing and a massive energy tax hike going nowhere in the U.S. Senate, President Barack Obama is now faced with a conundrum. He can either read the handwriting on the wall, or seek to accomplish through regulation what he couldn’t accomplish through legislation: the handover of U.S. environmental policy to radical environmentalists.

Does any of this sound familiar?

This is frankly the same dynamic we are witnessing in the health care debate. There, Obama says he will use procedural loopholes to ram his version of a socialized medicine proposal through the U.S. Congress against the expressed will of the American people.

Once again, it appears that Obama simply cannot comprehend the meaning of a word understood by literally millions of toddlers: "No."

As he seeks to push his health care proposals on the one hand, Obama will no doubt attempt to frame the debate along partisan lines. On the energy front, it won’t be so easy.

That’s because West Virginia Senator John D. Rockefeller – who is among the President’s staunchest allies in the U.S. Senate – is standing up to Obama and the radical environmentalists’ power grab. Rockefeller has recently introduced legislation that would place a two-year moratorium on the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants and other stationary emitters, which is precisely the regulatory authority Obama is threatening to use if Congress doesn’t pass his "cap and trade" bill this year.

In unveiling his legislation, Rockefeller noted that his primary objective was to "safeguard jobs," but he bluntly reminded Obama that it was "Congress, not the EPA" which bears responsibility for setting the nation’s energy policy. Additionally, three other Democratic Senators recently joined Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski in supporting a resolution that would overturn the EPA’s "scientific" finding of fact regarding greenhouse gases – a finding that forms the basis of Obama’s promised regulatory push.

Whether it’s through regulation or legislation, though, the bottom line is that Obama is seeking to dramatically raise energy prices on American consumers. In fact, documents obtained from his own Treasury Department show that the so-called "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act" (a.k.a. "cap and trade") could drain as much as $200 billion from U.S. taxpayers, or $1,700 per family.

Other estimates place the per-family costs as high as $3,100 a year.

Clearly, that sort of tax hike isn’t something the American taxpayers can afford in any economic environment – let alone this one – even if the legislation were to accomplish its stated objectives of reducing global carbon emissions.

But that’s another fundamental problem.

Neither "cap and trade" nor excessive EPA regulation will do anything to stop countries like China from building dozens of new "dirty" coal plants over the next decade – and perhaps beyond. And frankly, neither will the $50 billion a year that Obama is seeking to steer into a United Nations "climate change fund" for developing nations – part of an international shakedown which columnist Charles Krauthammer has correctly dubbed "wealth redistribution via global socialism."

Speaking of China (and enviro-scams), it’s also worth noting that America’s new "bailout banker" is one of several countries benefiting from billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that were supposed to create "green jobs" here in America – yet another example of the true face of eco-socialism.

Fortunately, Sen. Rockefeller and others like him are standing up for American jobs by refusing to let Obama hand the reins of the EPA over to the same environmental kooks who recently ran the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change into the ground.

Perhaps these courageous Democrats can finally teach the President the meaning of the word "No," although from the looks of it voters may have to do that for themselves in 2012.

Howard Rich, chairman of Americans for Limited Government, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Obama gives away $1.4M Nobel prize

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to donate the $1.4 million from his Nobel Peace Prize to helping students, veterans' families and survivors of Haiti's earthquake, among others, drawing attention to organizations he said "do extraordinary work."

Obama is giving a total of $750,000 to six groups that help kids go to college. Fisher House, which provides housing for families with loved ones at Veterans Administration hospitals, will receive $250,000, the White House said Thursday. And the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, for which two former presidents are raising money to rebuild earthquake-ravaged Haiti, will receive $200,000.

"These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need," Obama said in a statement. "I'm proud to support their work."

Obama was chosen for the Nobel award more for his aspirations and approach than his accomplishments thus far. The Nobel committee honored him for changing the tenor of international politics and for pursuing goals Obama says will require worldwide effort, such as nuclear disarmament and reversing global warming.

Obama himself was surprised by the award, and aides said at the time he would donate the cash prize to charity.

The Fisher House donation would help pay for three new homes at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Dover Air Force Base, where the bodies of Americans killed overseas are flown.

"It's work that needs to be done for these men and women who have served this nation so gallantly," Fisher House Foundation Chairman and CEO Kenneth Fisher said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's a privilege to serve these men and women and these families because they give so much to this nation."

The funds for Haiti would go to the rebuilding effort led by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. A Jan. 12 earthquake wrecked Haiti and killed an estimated 200,000 people, and the U.S. is playing an active role in rebuilding the country.

In addition, Obama plans to give $125,000 apiece to groups that help students go to college: College Summit, a national nonprofit that works with elementary and middle school students to boost college enrollment rates; the Posse Foundation, which gives full college scholarships to public school students who might be overlooked by traditional scholarship programs; United Negro College Fund; the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation; and the American Indian College Fund.

And Obama is donating $100,000 to AfriCare, which funds HIV/AIDS programs, public health programs, water resource development and agriculture in 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. He will give $100,000 to the Central Asia Institute, which promotes education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Obama accepted his peace prize just days after announcing he was ramping up U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Judge to hear plan to pay $657M to WTC responders

NEW YORK — A settlement that could pay up to $657.5 million to more than 10,000 ground zero rescue and recovery workers sickened by dust from the destroyed World Trade Center goes before a judge Friday, and he has said he favored a settlement but planned to analyze it carefully to make sure it was fair.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the proposal "fair and reasonable," a sentiment echoed by one of the negotiators of the deal that was announced Thursday night after years of fighting in court.

The settlement agreed upon by lawyers representing the city, construction companies and the workers was announced by WTC Captive Insurance Co., a special entity established to indemnify the city and its contractors against potential legal action as they moved to clean up the site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Both sides were scheduled to appear before the federal judge handling the litigation, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who must approve the deal along with the workers themselves. For the settlement to be enforced, 95 percent of the workers would need to agree to be bound by its terms.

The settlement would mean a postponement or cancellation of the trials tentatively scheduled to begin in May. Some of the cases scheduled to be heard first included that of a firefighter who died of throat cancer and another who needed a lung transplant, as well as workers with less serious ailments, including a Consolidated Edison utility company employee with limited exposure to the debris pile and no current serious illness.

The deal would make the city and other companies represented by the insurer liable for a minimum of $575 million, with more money available to the sick if certain conditions are met.

Most if not all of the money would come out of a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Marc Bern, a senior partner with the law firm Worby, Groner, Edelman & Napoli, Bern LLP, which negotiated the deal, said it was "a good settlement."

Workers who wish to participate in the settlement would need to prove they had been at the World Trade Center site or other facilities that handled debris. They also would have to turn over medical records and provide other information aimed at weeding out fraudulent or dubious claims.

Thousands of police officers, firefighters and construction workers who put in time at the 16-acre site in lower Manhattan had filed lawsuits against the city, claiming it sent them to ground zero without proper protective equipment.

Many now claim to have fallen ill. A majority complained of a respiratory problem similar to asthma, but the suits also sought damages for hundreds of other types of ailments, including cancer.

Lawyers for the city claimed it did its best to get respiratory equipment to everyone who needed it. They also had challenged some of the claims as based on the thinnest of medical evidence, noting that thousands of the people suing suffered from conditions common in the general population or from no illness at all.

Under the settlement, the task of deciding what each worker will be paid will fall to a neutral third party, to be picked by the two sides. Some workers are likely to receive payments of only a few thousand dollars. Others could be in line to get more than $1 million, depending on their injuries.

Carpenter James Nolan, of Yonkers, said he helped recover bodies and build ramps for firehoses at the site and then developed lung and leg problems, for which he takes six medications. He said the city knew the air was dirty so he sued six years ago and now he's happy the case is ending.

"We've had to fight for what we deserve," said Nolan, 45. "I'm glad it's coming to an end."