The children of victims of the World Trade Center attack are not alone. Families, the city, the state and the worlds of education and business have gathered around them.
After more than three weeks, it is almost certain that survivors aren't likely to emerge from the remains of the skyscrapers that first burned and then collapsed on Sept. 11.
The cataclysmic events may have taken parents from many thousands of children. How many, no one is saying, and authorities are questioning the veracity of reports that do.
So far, very few, if any, children have been left without a place to stay or someone to watch over them, said a spokesman from a New York City children's agency.
Jennifer Falk of the New York City Administration for Children's Services said published counts of children orphaned are purely speculative and accurate counts may not be available since the missing persons reports initially filed did not require a listing of children.
The plight of the victims has incited people and corporations across the country, and the world, to open their wallets for donations of more than $675 million. That is expected to grow to $1 billion -- enough to give more than $100,000 for each victim killed.
Meanwhile, prestigious universities like Harvard and Columbia as well as state schools in New York and Connecticut -- in addition to some corporations and non-profit organizations -- are queuing up to endow scholarship funds to assure the victims' children will have access to higher education.
The legal community is preparing to provide the services that victims' families will no doubt need. Families without a surviving parent will have to get court-approved guardian status for children in order to deal with legal matters relating to employment-related benefits, Social Security benefits, healthcare and schooling, said Arlene Harris, a lawyer and the chairman of the trust and estates section of the New York Bar Association.
Harris said the New York legal community is preparing to offer its services, many at no charge. "There are 30 firms involved in a pro bono effort," she said. "We all have a great need to help. We're not firefighters, but we can give our services and help the families get everything they are entitled to."
(Thanks to UPI's Mo Krochmal in New York)
SOFTWARE COULD DETECT PATTERNS OF TERROR
A new type of intelligence analysis software could detect the intentions of terrorists by scanning existing databases of information and spotting suspicious patterns of activity.
The software -- called Knowledge Aided Retrieval in Activity Context (KARNAC) and designed by Applied Systems Intelligence in Roswell, Ga. -- uses "profiles" of different categories of terrorist attacks to seek out key components of possible events. Such a system raises privacy concerns, but company officials say the risk of terrorist attacks on the scale of the World Trade Center disaster is more terrifying than loss of privacy.
Others say the system has technical problems. "These sorts of systems would be expensive and require a lot of effort to overcome the compatibility issues of different types of databases," Winn Schwartau, an information security expert with Interpact Security Awareness, told New Scientist.
Sources of information might include gun registrations, driver's licenses and criminal records, as well as the Internet and newspapers, journals and county records. The system might generate an alert if, for example, someone tried to buy materials used in bomb making and also booked a large truck and a hotel room near a government office. Such information was readily available in databases before Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. "These small pieces of information don't have much of an impact on their own, but collectively they can be very important," said Bagdonis.
(Thanks to UPI Science Writer Jim Kling)
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
The extent of the contagious foot-and-mouth disease epidemic in the United Kingdom earlier this year could have been greatly reduced if British authorities had followed the advice of veterinarians.
That's according to a British study, which said if all the animals in infected herds had been killed within 24 hours and all animals adjacent to infected farms had been killed within 48 hours, there would have been 60 percent fewer cases. Additionally, 45 percent fewer herds would have had to been destroyed.
Neil Ferguson, lead author and a professor at London's Imperial College, told UPI a delay in the early stages of imposing strict measures caused the epidemic to worsen. Additionally, part way through the epidemic, some control measures were relaxed.
"People thought the disease was effectively under control and they could relax a bit. It turned out not to the case," Ferguson said.
Corrie Brown, professor of veterinary pathology at University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, told UPI that: "The epidemiologists seem to be confirming what we thought before, which is rapid and stringent measures taken to control foot and mouth disease are absolutely essential."
"The spread of this virus is something that the public has a hard time grasping. It's really much more infectious than any disease known," Brown added.
Hoof and mouth disease affects only animals and is not contagious to humans.
(Thanks to UPI's Joe Grossman in Santa Cruz, Calif.)