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Ground Zero workers settlement unfair: judge

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NEW YORK (AFP) – A proposed 657-million-dollar health settlement for some 10,000 people who worked at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks was too low and must be renegotiated, a judge ruled Friday.

“In my judgment, this settlement is not enough,” federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in New York after hearing two hours of testimony from plaintiffs in the huge case.

“There are some questions that have to be addressed,” he added, calling for “additional negotiations to come up with a fair deal.”

Last week, a preliminary deal was announced in which a government-funded insurance company would compensate more than 10,000 people claiming health problems from their work in the toxic debris of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the 2001 attacks.

The deal needs the court’s approval to go ahead, as well as the backing of 95 percent of plaintiffs. They would have 90 days to review the proposal before making a decision.

Hellerstein singled out payment of lawyers’ fees, which are expected to amount to some 200 million dollars or more — about a third of the compensation package.

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The judge said the insurance company, not the plaintiffs should foot the attorneys’ bill. “The fees should be paid by the Captive Insurance” company, he said.

“Plaintiffs should know what they would get at the end of the day to make an intelligent decision.”

At the hearing, a majority of plaintiffs testified in support of the proposal.

“I think it is a fair and accurate determination,” said Michael Damato, a partially disabled laborer who said he earned 140,000 dollars a year before his stint at Ground Zero and now only earned 40,000 dollars.

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Another witness, police officer Candice Baker, who said she suffered from breast cancer and had been operated on five times, asked Hellerstein to be “as sympathetic, as compassionate as possible. That is all I can ask.”

The judge answered: “I promise.”

A new hearing was scheduled for April 12.

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‘Where?’: Trump fans told to seek shelter from storm after waiting in line for hours

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to launch his campaign Tuesday evening. But his supporters are being told to seek shelter as the weather gets worse.

Trump supporters held tailgates and by noon Tuesday, thousands were waiting to enter the arena. That's when it began to rain and within hours the rain turned into storms.

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Shep Smith stunned that America will continue to be left without an official defense secretary after Patrick Shanahan resigns

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Fox News host Shepard Smith noted on Tuesday that the United States gone without a confirmed secretary of defense since the resignation of James Mattis in December last year.

"This one came out of nowhere. But really didn't catch a lot of people by surprise. We begin with breaking news and the bombshell report that has blown up the top spot at the Pentagon, ensuring that the United States goes longer without a full-time confirmed secretary of defense," Smith said.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan abruptly resigned on Tuesday after facing an FBI investigation over domestic violence allegations.

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Mitch McConnell says he won’t support reparations because ‘we elected an African-American president’

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday that the United States does not need to pay reparations for slavery in part because "we elected an African-American president."

McConnell was confronted with a question about reparations during a press gaggle at the Capitol.

"I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea," the Kentucky Republican opined. "We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We've elected an African-American president."

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