States Move To Deal With Attack Effects
By Greg McDonald, Senior Writer
Gov. James Gilmore of Virginia, which is still reeling from the attack on the Pentagon, Wednesday lifted the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits so workers hurt by the closing of Reagan-National Airport can get immediate financial help.
Gilmore also announced establishment of the Virginia Post-Attack Economic Response Task Force to assess the adverse impact on the state's economy and develop a plan to deal with it.
"We are adjusting to the realities of a new world," he said.
A similar task force is contemplated by Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, who scheduled a meeting with local officials and business leaders Wednesday on the potential impact of revenue losses to the state's travel and tourism industry. Other states - California, Florida, Nevada and New York among them -- are also considering ways to minimize losses.Nevada officials are concerned specifically about the impact on its major industry - gambling.
Govs. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Frank O'Bannon of Indiana have announced plans to make further cuts in already tight budgets in anticipation that the economy will get worse as more Americans decide to consume and travel less. Vilsack told reporters this week Iowans have nothing specific to fear, but he acknowledged that the uncertainty of what might come next is enough to put people on edge. "I don't think there's any particular threat," he said. "But...this is a different world than a week ago."
Other steps being taken in the anti-terrorism effort by state and federal government officials include:
- Beefed up security at all nuclear power plants, weapons and research reactors. The U.S. Energy Department has temporarily halted shipments of high-level nuclear wastes, such as spent fuel rods and other materials, from government facilities to storage sites.
- Increased security along the Canadian and Mexican borders and in all major U.S. seaports. The U.S. Coast Guard has called up 148 reservists in Washington State to help patrol Puget Sound. Coast Guard and state patrols are also stepping up inspections of foreign ships at ports in the Great Lakes.
- Passage or consideration of several new or strengthened anti-terrorism laws. New York passed a new death penalty statute for terrorism earlier this week and New Jersey is likely to take action soon on a package of anti-terrorism measures.
- Public warnings in Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Nebraska about telephone, mail and other scams that have popped up seeking to profit from the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
- Increased investigations in more than a dozen states of hate-related crimes against Americans of Arab, Jewish or Indian descent. New Jersey, for instance, has had 26 complaints classified by police as harassment or terrorist threats.
More than two dozen states are preparing for the mobilization of up to 50,000 National Guard troops and reservists. Part-time soldiers in North Carolina have been told to prepare their families and employers for the possibility of long deployments. California officials are hoping that Guard units there won't be called because hundreds of police and sheriffs deputies are Guard members.