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Gary Younge
You've seen the attacks, now buy the T-shirt

As an open truck carrying rubble from what remains of the World Trade Centre turned a corner in Lower Manhattan yesterday a crowd of 15 people descended on it, each making a grab for a handful of mangled girders and rock as a ghoulish souvenir. Some were hard at work, gathering material to sell on as a horrific mementoes, until a scuffle with the police looked imminent.

Meanwhile Michael Jackson is busy assembling an all-star cast to record a charity single - on the same lines as USA for Africa's We Are the World - to raise $50m for the victims. In a statement over the weekend Jackson said the project had "received an overwhelming response from major artists all over the world", including Destiny's Child, the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears.

"Michael's aim is to stop the violence," the executive producer Marc Schaffel said. A sample of the lyrics include: "Brother to brother, lay down our fears and reach out to make a pact/Showing the love that is in our hearts, let us bring salvation back."

Back in New York, street vendors are faring better than ever. On makeshift tables and cardboard boxes they sell hastily printed T-shirts bearing the message "America under Attack" above an image of the twin towers ablaze, for just $4. Then there are bandanas, hats and hankies promising that "evil will be punished" and a T-shirt with the words: "I can't believe I got out".

Prices for postcards and wall mirrors of what was the skyline have increased steadily. The best-selling book on Amazon.com last week was a coffee-table picture book, Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Centre. "We all know why they're buying them," said one news vendor who has worked the same spot for 12 years. "We'll never see these towers again and they want to show their children and grandchildren."

For those who want to remember how it happened rather than how it was, young men sell snaps of the planes flying into the towers to tourists and fellow Americans. "Nobody's given me a problem selling these," says Mike on the corner of Canal and Broadway clutching a selection of three different angles of the crashes. "I'm working hard and getting paid. I'm not disrespecting anybody."

All over the country, there are the flags. Fluttering from everything from taxis to prams, hanging from apartment windows in Chinatown and in gay bars in Greenwich Village.

A poll released yesterday showed that 82% of Americans had displayed the stars and stripes after the atrocity, far more than those who said they had cried.

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