The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Web Extra

September 11, 2013

10 changes in America since 9/11

The United States and the world have changed significantly in the dozen years since terrorists hijacked jetliners and launched the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Here are 10 of those changes.

1. America has become less dependent on foreign fuel

Decades of Mideast dependence prompted alliances with regional monarchies that 9/11 organizer Osama bin-Laden opposed. But that dependence is beginning to ebb. Domestic production, led by technological changes in extraction, is at its highest in decades. That growth seems poised to continue whether or not Washington approves the controversial Keystone XL pipeline carrying Canadian oil from tar sands.

2. Bin Laden is gone

It took more than nine years, but the United States found and killed the al-Qaida leader who bankrolled the 9/11 attacks. While terrorism threats remain, they do not have at their root a person such as bin Laden who personified the anti-U.S. movement.

3. The intelligence state has mushroomed

We have more government intrusion in our lives post-911, from TSA airport checkpoints to NSA phone surveillance. Intelligence budgets have skyrocketed, to the $52.6 billion plan proposed for 2013. U.S. drone attacks have outraged many worldwide, as have detention practices from Afghanistan and Iraq to Guantanamo. The defenders of these practices say extraordinary measures have been necessary to keep a targeted United States safe.

4. Anti-authoritarian ferment in the Middle East

Tunisia, Libya, Egypt all toppled longtime military-backed leaders, and Egypt saw a military coup against the successor government. Rebels and protesters have risen up in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain as well, with mixed results.

5. What Google has wrought

Hand in hand with that tumult has been the exploding use of Twitter, G-chat, Facebook and similar services in tightly controlled societies worldwide, all giving voice to people who are denied printing presses and broadcast licenses. Thousands have followed protests in Iran and Egypt — and videos from Syria — through social networks. The pattern has repeated itself across the globe, from China to Brazil.

6. Rise (and fall) in U.S. fervor for military action

After the 2001 attacks, the Bush administration moved quickly into Afghanistan in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the fight against the Taliban. Claiming a link to weapons of mass destruction, it committed the Pentagon to Iraq. The two long wars have sapped America's appetite for military action, reflected in polls showing nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose even limited military efforts in Syria.

7. The demise of a Holocaust denier in Iran

For years, a face of anti-Americanism was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president from 2005 to 2013. Iran has supported Syria's Assad, Lebanon's Hezbollah — and its own nuclear ambitions in the face of Washington's objections. Ahmadinejad's rhetoric against Israel knew few bounds. That's why it was so startling earlier this month when, on Rosh Hashanah, Iran's new president and foreign minister took to Twitter to wish Jews a happy new year. When challenged about its Holocaust-denying past, the foreign minister tweeted that the guy who used to deny it is gone. Whether his comments reveal a deeper shift remains to be seen.

8. Emergence of a multicultural U.S. mainstream

In 2012, whites made up the lowest percentage of the U.S. population in American history. Census data showed more whites died than were born, a slump more than a decade before the predicted decline of America's white population. The fastest growing group is multiracial Americans. The demographic shifts have buoyed Obama and Democrats, who have outsized support among women and gays and lesbians as well.

9. 'We're broke'

The last U.S. budget surplus was in fiscal year 2001. The national debt now is more than $16.7 trillion — or about $53,000 per person. Rising health and defense spending played a big role, as did a cut in the personal income tax near the start of the Bush administration. Persistent unemployment and the first waves of Baby Boomer retirements have also contributed to unease about the economy.

10. Ground Zero no more

Eight years in the making, the 104-story Freedom Tower is poised to open early in 2014 at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. Later this year, the 72-story 4 World Trade Center will open on the southeast corner of the site. An underground museum will open in the spring, and two more office buildings and a transportation hub will follow. In June 2012, Obama signed a construction beam that was hoisted to the top of Freedom Tower. On it he wrote: "We remember / we rebuild / we come back stronger!"

1
Text Only
Web Extra
  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 22, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 18, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 18, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: New story emerges about Texas children locked in hot car

    After footage showed Texas shoppers breaking the windows of a hot car to rescue children trapped inside, additional witnesses have come forward to correct the story behind what has become a viral video.

    July 16, 2014