This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.
Thursday will mark two years since the attacks on the United States.
On September eleventh, two-thousand-one, nineteen terrorists hijacked four airplanes on the East Coast. They crashed two planes into the World Trade Center in New York City. The area where the two towers stood is now called Ground Zero.
A third plane hit the Pentagon, the Defense Department headquarters across the Potomac River from Washington. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Shankesville, Pennsylvania, after passengers began to resist.
Almost three-thousand people were killed that Tuesday morning, most of them in New York. DNA tests on remains have yet to identify almost half the World Trade Center victims.
Many Americans are attending memorials this month to honor the victims of September eleventh. Some people are visiting the areas where the attacks took place. Families of the victims say coming together helps them deal with the painful memories of that day. Other people say attending the memorials will help raise awareness of what happened.
Many Americans say the attacks brought people closer together in a show of unity. Others say they became more fearful and suspicious of foreigners in the United States after the attacks.
A civil rights group in Washington said reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the United States increased by fifteen-percent during the past year. The yearly report is from the Council on American Islamic Relations.
The council noted a decrease, however, in reports of unreasonable searches and unfairness toward Muslim passengers on airplanes. This decrease took place from two-thousand-one to two-thousand two. Council leaders also noted nine successful trials of anti-Muslim hate crimes last year.
The council's report criticizes federal policies established after the attacks. The report mostly deals with the USA Patriot Act. Congress passed the law in October of two-thousand-one to give federal officials more power to investigate terrorism.
The public is generally seen as supportive of the act. But some cities have said it gives law enforcement agencies too much power and threatens civil rights. The Bush administration says the anti-terrorism measures are needed to prevent future attacks.
In New York, lawmakers say only one-third of twenty-one-thousand-million dollars in promised federal aid has so far been paid. They say New York needs the money now to help its economy and to clean up the environment surrounding Ground Zero.
At the same time, discussions, and disagreements, are taking place about the best way to remember the victims of September eleventh. Officials are also deciding the final design of the series of structures that will replace the World Trade Center towers.
This VOA Special English program, In the News, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.