A new documentary follows Jon Stewart's relentless, decade-long fight to help 9/11 first responders
via Reddit

After the attacks on 9/11, the U.S government has had little problem spending over $6.4 trillion on the War on Terror. For some perspective, the U.S. government's total expenditures last year was $4.4 trillion.

Direct combat has killed over 800,000 people, including 350,000 civilians, and displaced over 37 million people.

The U.S, government has unflinchingly wasted all of this blood and treasure but has dragged its feet repeatedly to pay the healthcare bills for first-responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


Tens of thousands of police, firemen, and rescue workers who sifted through the smoldering rubble on 9/11, while breathing in a toxic cloud of debris, have since come down with a host of health issues, including rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), asthma, sleep apnea, cancer, posttraumatic stress disorder, respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, and anxiety disorder.

"We will never know the composition of that cloud, because the wind carried it away, but people were breathing and eating it," Dr. Michael Crane, at the World Trade Center Health Program, told Newsweek in 2016. "What we do know is that it had all kinds of god-awful things in it. Burning jet fuel. Plastics, metal, fiberglass, asbestos. It was thick, terrible stuff."

In America, even with insurance, chronic disease can leave a family in financial ruins.

Recent analysis has found that close to 10,000 first responders have been diagnosed with cancer and over 2,000 deaths have been attributed to illnesses caused by the attacks. It's estimated that more people have died from toxic exposure than were killed in the actual attack.

Former "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart has been a tireless advocate for the 9/11 first responders. Last year, when funds for the most recently-authorized bill to help pay for first responders' healthcare, became depleted, Stewart gave a passionate speech to an empty Congress.

"It's an embarrassment to the country," Mr. Stewart said, criticizing members of Congress for skipping the hearing.

"And you should be ashamed of yourselves," he scolded.

After Stewart's rebuke, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to send the bill to the House floor for consideration. The Victim Compensation Fund was then been extended through 2092, funding health care for first responders for life.

Now Stewart, 9/11 activist John Feal, and FDNY hero, Ray Pfeifer, are the subject of a new documentary on their collective fight to ensure healthcare and compensation for the thousands of ailing first responders.

The film is called "No Responders Left Behind" and has yet to have a release date.

No Responders Left Behind Official Trailer www.youtube.com

"John Feal and all the first responders have done so much for me, for the community, for the city, for the country. To be able to repay some of that debt that I feel I owe them personally, that we all owe them, is the best feeling," Stewart said, according to Variety.

"Being a small part of this journey is the one thing I'm most proud of. I will follow John anywhere he wants to lead me next," he added.

"For many, the last 18.5 years has been about passing legislation and fighting for justice for those affected by the aftermath of 9/11. I cannot say the same for me," said Feal.

"It has never been about passing legislation, donating money or the accolades," he continued. "It has always been about the journey from where we started to not knowing when it will end. It has been about the friendships and all the people I love and now call my family."

The news of the documentary comes as reports show the Trump administration has siphoned off $4 million from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program. The program treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.

"Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we're not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes," David Prezant, the FDNY's Chief Medical Officer, said according to New York Daily News.

After years of complaining about the mysterious funding depletion, Prezant consulted Long Island Republican Representative Pete King and it was discovered it was due to a Medicare dispute with the state of New York.

King intends to confront Vice President Mike Pence over the issue.

"I gotta tell him," King said. "Forget the politics. I don't want to sound naive, but this is terrible, absolutely inexcusable."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Wikimedia Commons and Goalsetter

America's ethnic wealth gap is a multi-faceted problem that would take dramatic action, on multiple fronts, to overcome. One of the ways to help communities improve their economic well-being is through financial literacy.

Investopedia says there are five primary sources of financial education—families, high school, college, employers, and the military — and that education and household income are two of the biggest factors in predicting whether someone has a high level of financial literacy.

New Orleans Saints safety, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and social justice activist Malcolm Jenkins and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hope to help bridge the wealth gap by teaching students about investing at a young age.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.