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Terrorist attacks alter news priorities
Early risers on Sept. 11, 2001, opened their newspapers and turned on their televisions to find a routine mix of news that, in retrospect, portrayed a nation of innocents.
Television news was dominated by the mysterious disappearance of California Congressman Gary Condit's young aide Chandra Levy, and the failure of Washington, D.C., police to find any clues. Shark attacks up and down the Atlantic seaboard had drawn considerable media attention.
President Bush was in Florida hoping to drum up support for his education program. A photograph showed Bush surrounded by school children.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had been in Washington trying to get Congress to agree to a reduction in military bases in favor of spending money to modernize the military with high-tech weaponry.
In business news, the Dow Jones bounced back to 9,605.51 after dropping nearly 100 points. Analysts said the blip was caused by investors who were unsure about the lackluster performance of the economy.
''I think people don't know what to do, so they are not doing anything,'' one analyst observed.
Locally, The Morning Call carried a front-page photograph of the twisted remains of Concept Sciences Inc. in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park.
Five people died when the chemical plant blew apart on Feb. 19, 1999, as workers distilled the company's first batch of hydroxylamine, a solution used to clean computer chips.
Seeking justice for the deaths, the federal government accused company President Irl Ward of violating safety standards by rushing production of hydroxylamine so his company would be the first in the United States to market it.
But on Sept. 10, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick dismissed all criminal charges against Ward, calling the government safety standards ''clearly ambiguous'' and stating that ''it would be grossly unjust'' to charge Ward.
The Delaware River Basin Commission, still unwilling to use the word ''drought,'' was boosting the water supply in the Delaware River by releasing water from its Catskill Mountains reservoir.
''The times are dry,'' said commission spokesman Clarke Rupert. ''We're not getting the precipitation.''
International news seemed to be more of the same. In fact, interest in things foreign had dipped so low that a few months earlier, CNN had cut back on its foreign news coverage.
Once again, the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians was in trouble. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were hoping to get together for talks, if they could ever agree on where to have them.
The Balkans were boiling, as they had been since about 1993. This time it was Macedonia's turn. The small nation was having problems with its Albanian minority.
And Secretary of State Colin Powell had declared a right-wing paramilitary group in Colombia a ''terrorist organization'' because it was engaged in violence and drug smuggling.
As Powell worried about terrorists in South America, hints about the real trouble spot appeared in a small story that could have been easily overlooked by Morning Call readers.
The Associated Press reported that Ahmed Shah Massood, the leader of Afghanistan's opposition to the Taliban, had been injured or killed in a suicide bombing by two men posing as journalists.
Some intelligence experts now believe the attack on Massood was the signal to members of al-Qaida in America to proceed with their plans to carry out their attacks on the United States.