Rashed Mian

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Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: rmian@longislandpress.com. Twitter: rashedmian

Democrats Have a No-Fly List Problem

Democrats staged a dramatic sit-in at the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday led by civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to pressure the Republican majority to hold a vote on a contentious bill that would prevent US citizens on terror watchlists, including the no-fly list, from purchasing a gun.

Democrats occupied the chamber for 24 hours, chanting “No bill, no break,” as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) went about his business, barely acknowledging the Democrats’ protest. Earlier in the day, Ryan, in an interview with CNN, brushed aside the protest as nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”

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At issue is whether US citizens on secretive terror watchlists should be barred from purchasing firearms. The debate has spawned rather peculiar bedfellows: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Ryan are fierce opponents of any legislation linking controversial lists of suspected—but not accused—“terrorists” with gun control measures, while Democrats and presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump actually agree on the measure. The only difference between the ACLU’s mindset and Ryan’s, is the ACLU does not believe the Second Amendment is immune from regulation.

“In this country, we do not take away people’s constitutional rights without due process,” Ryan said Thursday. “This is not just Republicans saying this. It’s groups like the ACLU who are saying this.”

The raucous debate over gun control legislation returned to the fore following the mass slaying in Orlando that killed 49 people at a popular gay nightclub. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was twice investigated by the FBI but never formally charged. He was briefly placed on a terror watchlist but his name was scrubbed after both investigations were subsequently closed.

The sit-in, a Civil Rights-era tactic broadcasted on CSPAN via new-school technology in lieu of the traditional C-SPAN feed, also featured speeches from Democrats criticizing their GOP colleagues for failing to act.

House Dems emphathically contend that there should be no legal avenue for suspected terrorists to purchase a gun. But civil liberties groups warned that labeling people on such lists as “terrorists” or even “suspected terrorists” is irresponsible given the opacity governing how people are placed on watchlists.

“Our nation’s watchlisting system is error-prone and unreliable because it uses vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence to place individuals on blacklists without a meaningful process to correct government error and clear their names,” the ACLU said in a letter to the U.S. Senate, which voted on but did not pass a similar gun ban.

Under the government’s current system, people who believe they were mistakenly placed on the list have no way of ascertaining why their name was included in the first place.

After a federal court ruled in June 2014 that the rules in place to challenge inclusion on the no-fly list were unconstitutional, the government said it would tell US citizens whether they’re on the list. In the past, those included on the list only made the discovery after arriving at a US airport.

A separate lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and City University of New York School of Law CLEAR project resulted in four men having their name taken off the list. But the court, on the government’s recommendation, dismissed the lawsuit. Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the FBI in 2014, claiming the men were coerced into becoming FBI informants by agents who said they would remove their names from the no-fly list if they agreed to spy on behalf of the government. The four men were all Muslim.

“I’m disappointed that I won’t be allowed to have my day in court. Though I can finally travel to see my family, I have missed so many milestones being away and have been treated unfairly,” Awais Sajjad, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said in a statement after the lawsuit was dismissed. “The FBI agents knew I was desperate and tried to pressure me to become an informant. That shouldn’t go unpunished.”

At the time of the suit, one man had gone five years without seeing his wife and three children. Another was stopped from boarding a flight to Pakistan, where he was going to visit his ailing father and elderly grandmother, the suit claimed. Instead he was ushered to a windowless interrogation room.

The ACLU sued the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Terrorist Screening Center in June 2010 on behalf of more than a dozen people on the no-fly list. Four years later, seven of the 13 plaintiffs were removed from the government’s database. However, the remaining six were given a summary explaining why they had been placed on the list.

Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, in an interview with the independent news oulet Democracy Now, challenged Democrats to pursue gun reform without endangering civil liberties.

“What they’re essentially doing is that they’re compromising a fake concept of constitutional rights in gun control, and they’re keeping that strong, and they’re watering down an already bad system which we have, which is the no-fly list,” he said. “People don’t know how they get on the no-fly list…So, if you’re using no-fly list as a proxy for dangerousness, as a way to tell that somebody’s going to be dangerous…it’s not going to work. And we’re essentially solidifying the Republican position against gun control by watering down our constitutional rights to stay free from these type of invasions.”

For now, the Democrats will continue to push for legislation barring people on secretive lists from getting access to guns. But by provoking backlash from civil liberties groups, Democrats have provided Ryan with an opening to turn what was a debate about guns into a discussion about the potential harmful effects of limiting a US citizens’ right to due process—a conversation Democrats on any other occasion would be eager to have.

Report: Huge Spike in Mosque Attacks Last Year

After waking up on June 12 to the news that a Muslim man had slaughtered 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, a large segment of the congregation at the Islamic Center of Long Island decided to skip Sunday prayer.

“People were afraid,” said Isma Chaudhry, president of the ICLI in Westbury. “People were afraid to come out of their houses.”

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For many Muslims, with each attack, whether it’s in an American community like Orlando or in a European metropolis like Paris, comes yet another wave of anti-Islam rhetoric.

Then there’s Donald Trump. Since the vicious slayings in Orlando, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has doubled down on his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US and has said he supports racial profiling of Muslims. He also openly speculated that Muslims may be hiding potential terrorists. But it turns out that a Muslim American reported the Orlando shooter to the FBI. On previous occasions, Trump has talked favorably about spying on mosques and killing innocent family members of terror suspects.

For some Muslim Americans, simply visiting their local mosque necessitates extreme caution.

A report released jointly Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender detailing the meteoric rise of Islamophobia in the US found that attacks on mosques nearly quadrupled from 20 to 78 between 2014 and 2015. Nearly half of those incidents occurred between November and December—around the same time of the attacks in Paris and the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. The far majority of those incidents were labeled vandalism or intimidation, according to the report.

In announcing the findings, Corey Saylor, director of the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, said Muslim Americans haven’t faced this much backlash since the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy reached a fever pitch in 2010.

“This time around [Islamophobia] has a much more violent tenor to it, and we see a lot more acts of intimidation targeting mosques,” Saylor told reporters in Washington, D.C.

The study also revealed that 74 groups make up what researchers have termed the “US Islamophobia Network.” Promoting anti-Islam sentiment is apparently a lucrative business. According to the report, 33 of those organizations had access to $205 million in revenue. A larger segment of the network, considered to be in the “outer core,” includes such media personalities as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill Maher.

Saylor said the goal of the report was not to silence Islam’s detractors but to encourage Muslim Americans to become more involved in social justice movements and to delegitimize groups that promote Islamophobia.

“It’s not our goal to go out and say, ‘Hi, guys, the Muslims are here, and we’re going to take over,’” he told reporters Monday. “It’s our goal to be good allies. That’s what our faith tells us to be.”

After the homophobic attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Muslim American leaders on Long Island reached out to their respective police departments and requested stepped up patrols.

Both Nassau and Suffolk County police said they had already instituted a heightened presence since this is the holy month of Ramadan.

Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said bias-related crimes in the county are relatively low. Any incidents that do arise, he insisted, would be investigated thoroughly.

The Islamophobia report counted only seven attacks on New York mosques from 2013 to 2015. But Saylor cautioned that the actual number might be higher due to under-reporting.

Following the shootings in San Bernardino last December when a radicalized couple killed 14 people, the Islamic Center of Long Island was tagged with graffiti by vandals who drove a truck onto the mosque’s grounds, Chaudhry said.

Nayyar Imam, the first-ever Muslim chaplain for the Suffolk County Police Department and president of the Long Island Muslim Alliance, said the Selden mosque has not been targeted, but leaders there remain vigilant. The mosque recently cancelled a bake sale for a girl’s youth group out of concern that they’d be targeted.

“When they’re sitting outside, you’re exposing yourself to any kind of crazy person who can walk in,” he said.

Imam says he is worried about the toll these attacks—and any future incidents—will have on the Muslim community.

“We have to do a lot of work,” he said, noting that Muslim Americans have to do a better job of reaching out to non-Muslims.

One way Muslims can get more exposure is through the political process, Saylor suggested.

“Don’t be invisible,” Saylor said. “Don’t bury your head.”

The anti-Islam rhetoric may have one unintended effect, however. According to data released by CAIR on Tuesday, more than 300,000 Muslim Americans have registered to vote since the 2012 election.

What could be driving the increase?

“The apparent jump in Muslim voter registration is just one possible indicator of increased political involvement resulting from rhetorical attacks on that faith community by public figures,” the organization said in a press release.

Body of Missing Atlantic Beach Man Found Off Jones Beach Inlet

The body of an Atlantic Beach man who had gone missing while paddle boarding near his home last weekend was found off Jones Beach Inlet on Friday, authorities said.

Both Nassau County police and the United States Coast Guard confirmed they recovered the body of 41-year-old Gary Turkel. Turkel’s paddle board was also discovered.

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said a private fishing boat alerted Nassau County police at around 6 a.m., who then contacted the Coast Guard. Turkel’s body was recovered about 24 miles off the coast, the spokesman said.

Turkel had gone missing near his Atlantic Beach home Sunday afternoon, police said. He was last seen by his wife paddleboarding by Yates Avenue, police said.

After Orlando Attack, L.I. Muslims Feel They’re ‘Back To Square One’

The woman on the other end of the phone was rattled.

“What are we going to do?” she asked, desperately.

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As a board member of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, Dr. Faroque Khan is no stranger to random phone calls from members of the community or journalists inquiring about the Muslim response to the latest attack.

“She was shaken,” Khan told the Press, recalling the moment he learned that the gunman who slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando identified as Muslim.

The caller was a former ICLI board member who moved to Florida and now belongs to a mosque in the Sunshine State.

Put out a press release, Khan calmly advised. The ICLI would publish its own condemnation later that day.

“As Muslims and people of faith we must remember that God has directed us to defend all people equally against bigotry, hate, violence and abuse,” the ICLI’s statement declared. “The preservation of life is one of the main principles prescribed by the Islamic Faith.”

For a brief period before the massacre in Orlando, it seemed American Muslims had been given some reprieve.

The death of Muhammad Ali, who very publicly espoused his religion, had inspired hundreds of people to spill into the streets of his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in honor of his life, while millions more watched from afar. Newscasters paid homage to not just a transcendent boxer, but also a man with an unwavering set of beliefs—a Muslim, whose religion served as a moral touchstone for everything he did.

In the ring, Ali had compiled 56 wins, with 37 victories coming by way of knockout. But to those who study the sport, it was Ali’s defensive ability that particularly stood out. With Ali gone, however, it’s as if Muslim Americans have had to take up the mantle as skilled defenders because they’re once again forced to respond to yet another heinous act committed in their faith’s name.

For Dr. Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, the brief period of genuflection for Ali seemed to portend a turning point for her religion.

But in post-9/11 America, it’s U.S. Muslims who are continuously dodging blows or being propped up as punching bags for commentators on unforgiving cable news networks amid rising nationalistic fervor buoyed by Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign.

“The media was portraying all the positive things [Ali] had to say about community, about Islam—and very eloquently, very passionately, very sincerely,” Chaudhry told the Press, three days after the mass slaying in Orlando. “And Muslims were about to take a breather—and then ‘Boom!’ ‘Boom!’ Honestly, it’s like someone keeps smacking you on your head.”

Indeed, multiple Muslim leaders speaking to the Press in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting appeared exasperated, offering a common refrain: that they had seemed to be making progress fighting off stereotypes, but now realize there’s much more work to be done.

“We take two steps forwards…” Chaudhry said the day after the rampage in Florida.

Khan, a board member at the ICLI, perhaps not surprisingly, uttered the same exact phrase.

Dr. Hafiz Ur Rehman, a member of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, lamented: “You know, you’re back to square one.”

The latest attack to thrust Muslim Americans back into the national spotlight was the most deadly since Sept. 11, 2001, and the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

The reaction from Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was swift: patting himself on the back for, in his words, essentially predicting another attack perpetrated by a Muslim. He repeated his calls for a temporary ban on Muslims traveling to the United States (the shooter was born in New York) and proposed law enforcement spy on mosques.

Trump chided President Barack Obama for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam,” suggesting Obama’s noncompliance demonstrated weakness.

Visibly irritated, Obama took aim at his detractors on Tuesday during a speech updating the administration’s efforts to “destroy” the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’ Obama told reporters. “That’s the key, they tell us—we can’t beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’

“What exactly would using this label accomplish?” he continued. “What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is ‘none of the above.’ Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”

Obama isn’t the only president to refuse to dub terrorists who identify as Muslim “radical Islamist.” George W. Bush made it a priority not to conflate Islam with terror for the majority of his presidency. Six days after 9/11, Bush stood outside a mosque in Washington, D.C. and proclaimed, “Islam is peace.”

Authorities found no evidence that the shooter, Omar Mateen, coordinated with any terror groups, officials have said. But there were reports of ISIS sympathizers celebrating the attack.

Following days of continuous coverage of Islamic extremism, Chaudhry said Obama’s defense of law-abiding Muslim Americans was therapeutic.

“He made us so proud as Americans because American politics was going in a very different direction, it was going in a direction that was pulling us down,” Chaudhry told the Press during an interfaith Iftar dinner Wednesday night, the evening meal in which Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

“It was going in a direction that was depressing,” she added. “It was going in a direction where we were becoming a world mockery. What he said brings hope, brings justice, brings an identity to be proud of as Americans and I can’t thank him enough for that, I can’t thank him enough as an American.”

The Islamic Center of Long Island’s 13th annual interfaith Iftar had been scheduled prior to the vicious attack, but the tragedy weighed heavily on everyone’s mind.

In attendance were members of all faiths: Jews, Christians, Muslims. Nassau County police officers mingled with religious leaders and the mayor of Westbury, Peter Cavallaro, a Republican, offered some brief remarks.

“This is not a reaction,” Chaudhry said. “My personal view is reactions are too late. As a community we have to be proactive. We have to identify and understand each other’s concerns and that can only be accomplished when we sit together—when we sit together without an agenda. When we are not reacting to an event, that’s when we can all really come and get to know one another.”

Rev. Hank Lay of Parkway Community Church in Hicksville said this was his 10th Iftar at the ICLI.

Lay, who makes a habit of visiting the ICLI monthly, said even he put the weekend’s slaying into a “religious context, of a radical Muslim attacking a group of Americans.”

“By Monday I recognized that it was radical religion attacking a sexual group that they think is abomination,” he told the Press. “And I found on the web, Christians praising the shooter for killing these people.”

Lay said the YouTube videos have since been removed because they were considered hate speech, therefore the existence of the videos could not be independently verified. “[That] tells me the issue is not a religious issue in the sense of Islam, it was the radical fundamentalist side of many religions, including my own, Christianity, that finds sexual diversity contrary to their understanding to God and therefore has very little sympathy if they suffer because of it,” he said.

Rabbi Andrew Gordon of Temple Sinai of Roslyn told those gathered that it’s up to all religions to be more proactive if they want to end hatred.

“As we pray for God’s protection, we know that we cannot wait for God to act, we must act,” he said. “All of us: Christians, Muslims and Jews, gay and straight, black and white, young and old, all of us must join hands together. We cannot let politicians or television announcers demonize an entire religion.”

Rahman, in a separate interview, was wistful when discussing his emotions during Muhammad Ali’s funeral, which he said put the faith in a good light.

“In this particular case, the funeral of Muhammad Ali, I thought, was an excellent thing that showed…about Islam and it’s beauty, and then here comes the crazy man and knocks out 50 people,” he said. “You know, you’re back to square one and it’s horrible, it’s frustrating. It brings a bad name; it’s trying to hijack the good name of the religion.”

(Featured photo: Interfaith dinner at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury on June 15, 2016.)

Bellport Man, 21, Dies in Forklift Accident, Cops Say

A 21-year-old Bellport man was killed Thursday when the forklift he was operating overturned, Suffolk County police said.

The incident, which homicide detectives said appears to be non-criminal, occurred at Swim King in Rocky Point at approximately 4:30 p.m., police said.

The victim, Jose Rodriguez, was operating the forklift when the machine fell to its side, pinning Rodriguez under the roof of the forklift, police said.

Rodriguez was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office will be conducting an autopsy, police said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified, police said.

2016 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach Could Break Records, Officials Say

This weekend’s Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach could be the biggest yet, organizers of the annual aerobatic demonstration cheered Friday.

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Standing under a picturesque blue sky amid the hum of civilian and military planes circling from way above for a rehearsal run, New York State park officials said this weekend’s generous forecast, combined with a star-studded cast of pilots, could portend record-breaking attendance of 400,000-plus guests.

“It’s a great way to honor our military veterans,” George Gorman, deputy regional director of NYS Parks for the Long Island region, told a few dozen onlookers and media gathered on the beach’s famous boardwalk.

The two-day event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will for the first time in the show’s 13-year history feature three jet teams, most notably the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Rounding out the all-star jet trio are Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds and France’s Breitling Jet Team.

Also performing draw-dropping maneuvers over the Atlantic will be the Farmingdale-based GEICO Skytypers, the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and legendary aerobatic performer, Sean D. Tucker.

[Read Press Managing Editor Timothy Bolger’s Cockpit Account “Inside A WWII-Era Plane’s Bethpage Air Show At Jones Beach’s Practice Flight” HERE]

Jim Record, who leads the fleet of Skytypers, said it’s always special to come back home to perform in front of friends and family.

The squad typically performs 16 shows annually, and they’ve done so at every air show at Jones Beach since its inception.

Navy Lt. Joe Hontz of the Blue Angels said gracing the skies on Memorial Day is a great way to honor those “who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

U.S. Navy Blue Angels
U.S. Navy Blue Angels

The air show is an economic boon for the state, with the parks department estimating the performance bringing in $13 million throughout the weekend.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Jones Beach in advance of the show to highlight revitalization projects, including the $16 million restoration of the West Bathhouse, a more robust food and drink selection, and planned construction of the East and Central Malls.

Organizers’ boasts that this air show could surpass all previous years in terms of attendance may not be hyperbole when you consider the hundreds who swarmed the beach Friday for the less-attended, but equally impressive, rehearsal.

The summer-like weather inspired Long Islanders to dust off their bathing suits, coolers and beach chairs to enjoy a day in the sun.

Forecasters are calling for mostly sunny skies Saturday and Sunday, with the mercury topping off at 88 and 81 degrees, respectively.

Memorial Day barbecues on Monday could be interrupted by some unwelcome showers before 2 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Revelers can expect mostly cloudy skies throughout the day, with a high near 76.

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning Appeals ‘Unprecedented’ Sentence

Chelsea Manning appeal

Lawyers for Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army soldier convicted of leaking a massive trove of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, formally appealed her lengthy prison term handed down in 2013, calling Manning’s punishment “grossly unfair and unprecedented.”

In their 209-page appeal, Manning’s lawyers said the whistleblower was convinced disclosing the cache of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks “was the right thing to do.”

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“She believed the public had a right to know about the toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the loss of life and the extent to which the government sought to hide embarrassing information of its wrongdoing,” Manning’s lawyers wrote. The documents were published by WikiLeaks in 2010.

The appeal comes more than two years after Manning was convicted under the Espionage Act—a World War I-era law intended to prosecute spies—but was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. Manning, a private first class in the U.S. Army, was subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison and dishonorably discharged at a military trial at Fort Meade, Md.—the home base of the National Security Agency.

Related: Revolution’s Family Tree: Franklin and Adams to Manning and Snowden

Her lawyers are now arguing that the judge’s sentence was overly harsh compared to prosecutions of other leakers, most notably, Gen. David Petraeus. The former CIA director pleaded guilty to disclosing classified documents to his mistress and biographer. For his crimes, Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation.

Manning is asking military judges to dismiss all charges based on the military’s use of solitary confinement, vague evidence and for the absence of proof that her disclosures harmed the United States.

Manning’s leak included more than 700,000 classified military and state department documents. Among the cache of intelligence was cockpit gun-sight footage of a U.S. Apache helicopters killing a dozen unarmed civilians and two Reuters photojournalists in Iraq in 2007. At the time it was the largest leak of U.S. intelligence secrets in history.

The disclosures rocked U.S. intelligence agencies and prompted dubious suggestions that by leaking classified intelligence Manning was putting American lives in danger—but such claims have gone unfounded, her supporters claim.

Bradley Manning Trial
Sketch of Pfc. Bradley Manning Trial Courtesy of Deb Van Poolen, (www.debvanpoolen.com)

Manning’s trial also came during a historically aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers under President Obama, whose administration has prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act than all other presidents combined.

Vincent Ward, of the New Mexico-based firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, which is representing Manning, said they’ll argue that the Espionage Act violates Manning’s due process and First Amendment rights.

“The elements are so broad and vague that you don’t know what to defend against,” Ward told the Press, adding, “It’s an issue that’s been subjected to lots of scrutiny and debate for a long time, even before Chelsea.”

Manning, who has gone through a very public sex change, was previously known as Bradley Manning.

“No whistleblower in American history has been sentenced this harshly,” Manning’s lawyers wrote. “Throughout trial the prosecution portrayed PFC Manning as a traitor and accused her of placing American lives in danger, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

Her lawyers chided the government for its pretrial confinement of Manning, which, they claim, worsened her already serious mental health issues.

Court documents note that Manning was restricted to what amounted to solitary confinement for nine months while awaiting trial despite Manning having informed Army officials about her challenges dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder and anxiety.

The American Civil Liberties Union, in an amicus brief filed in support of Manning’s appeal, challenged the legality of the Espionage Act because it prohibits suspects from defending themselves on the merits of the disclosures. The civil rights group also regaled at a double standard in which government officials are permitted to disclose information to perpetuate a certain agenda—which critics have dubbed “authorized leaks.”

“Disclosures of government information happen all the time, whether by officials seeking to advance their interests or by whistleblowers exposing misconduct for public benefit,” a pair of ACLU attorneys wrote in a blog post announcing the agency’s amicus brief. “But only one person in our history has ever been sentenced to decades in prison for disclosing truthful information to the press and public: Chelsea Manning.”

Ward said Manning is “anxious and nervous” and has been highly engaged in all aspects of her case.

“She also recognizes that she has a voice that transcends even the current situation,” Ward told the Press. “She’s brought awareness to both the issues associated with being a whistleblower to transgender issues, and I think she understands she occupies that political space.”

Manning enlisted in the Army in 2007 and was deployed to Baghdad as an intelligence analyst two years later. It was during the course of her deployment that Manning deteriorated emotionally because of her inability to live openly as a transgender woman, her appeal states.

In February 2015, Manning, who is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, was authorized by the Army to undergo hormone therapy. Just days after she was sentenced, Manning announced via a statement to NBC’s Today show that she was transitioning to a woman.

“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” the statement read. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

In 2013, the Press visited Fort Meade, Maryland to report on Manning’s trial:

(Featured photo: Famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg during a demonstration in support of Chelsea Manning/Courtesy Free whistleblower PVT Chelsea Manning – Facebook)

Here’s Who Will Be Flying at this Year’s Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach

U.S. Navy Blue Angels
U.S. Navy Blue Angels

For the first time the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach will feature a trio of jet teams, including the acclaimed U.S. Navy Blue Angels, which will be making its seventh such appearance at the popular summer kick-off event.

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This lineup for year’s air show, which will run from May 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., also boasts rookie flight squad, the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II, as well as legendary aerobatic performer, Sean D. Tucker and his custom-built Oracle Challenger II.

Rounding out the rest of the jet team will be the U.S. Navy Blue Angels’ counterpart across the northern border, the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, and the Breitling Jet Team, a civilian aerobatics team, which will be making its second appearance at the venerable air show.

Members of the first ever F-35 Lightning II heritage flight team from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. participate in the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., March 4-6, 2016. The heritage flight program features modern USAF fighter aircraft flying alongside World War II, Korean and Vietnam era aircraft in a dynamic display of our nation's air power history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller)
Members of the first ever F-35 Lightning II heritage flight team from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. participate in the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., March 4-6, 2016. The heritage flight program features modern USAF fighter aircraft flying alongside World War II, Korean and Vietnam era aircraft in a dynamic display of our nation’s air power history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller)

This year marks the 70th anniversary for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels—and their seventh appearance over the skies of Jones Beach State Park.

RELATED STORY: Inside the Blue Angels Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach Practice 

Organizers touted this year’s lineup as the most prolific in the air show’s 13-year history.

“This year’s 2016 Bethpage Air Show is one of, if not the best, schedule of performers we have ever seen in the history of the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park,” George Gorman, Deputy Regional Director, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, said in a statement.

The air show consistently attracts hundreds of thousands of fans to the historic South Shore beach each year. Last year’s show saw 325,000 people come out to see the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds soar over Long Island.

Jones Beach Air Show
US Navy Blue Angels will make their seventh appearance at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach

Also ringing in the unofficial start to the summer season this Memorial Day will be the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, making their 12th Bethpage Air Show appearance, and the dynamic GEICO Skytypers.

In another first, SUNY Farmingdale’s Flying Rams will make their debut when they fly a fleet of seven college-owned aircrafts.

The air show itself is free but visitors will be charged a $10 vehicle fee. New York State Empire Passport holders will not be charged.

While you prepare for the air show, check out Press managing editor Timothy Bolger’s death-defying experience with Sean D. Tucker prior to last year’s event.

James M. Shuart, Venerable ex-Hofstra President, Dies

James M. Shuart, the beloved ex-president of Hofstra University who oversaw a dramatic expansion of the venerable private college, died Friday, the university said.

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News of Shuart’s death was announced by his successor, Stuart Rabinowitz, who called Shuart a “friend and mentor” and credited him for raising enrollment and for more than doubling the size of the Hempstead campus over his 25 years as president.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to succeed someone whose stewardship helped make Hofstra a world-class university,” Rabinowitz said in a statement. “His grace and generosity of spirit serves as an example of the true meaning of Hofstra Pride.”

Shuart served as president from 1976-2001. But his love affair with Hofstra began much earlier: earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university in 1953 and 1962, respectively.

Shuart, a tenacious student, moved on to New York University, where he earned a doctor of philosophy in 1966. But Shuart never truly left Hofstra’s campus. In 1959, Shuart was hired as an admissions officer and and earned several promotions before becoming Hofstra’s seventh president.

Shuart also felt the pull of public service. He spent three years as Nassau County Commissioner of Public Services in the early ‘70s and later served as deputy Nassau County Executive. His next post, overseeing Nassau’s Commission on Priorities, provided great insight into demographics trends and its impact on higher education.

But his greatest accomplishment was Hofstra’s impressive expansion during the course of his presidency. With Shuart at the helm, Hofstra saw a rise in enrollment and degree programs, the university said. That period also brought more prestige to Hofstra athletics, which garnered Division I status. The campus itself doubled in size, new facilities were built and the School of Communication, now the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was born.

Shuart also solidified Hofstra’s reputation globally when its presidential conferences drew international praise. Shuart’s love for the campus is something that those who knew him personally will never forget.

“His legacy can be seen in the tens of thousands of trees and tulips planted during his tenure–an effort that has turned our campus into a leafy oasis and led to it becoming a nationally recognized arboretum,” Rabinowtiz said.

Hofstra’s on-campus stadium, which hosts collegiate competitions and is home to North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos, is emblazoned with Shuart’s name.

All of Hofstra’s flags will fly at half-staff and a moment of silence will be observed during upcoming commencement ceremonies, the university said.

(Featured photo credit: Hofstra University)

Bicyclist Killed in Collision with ATV in Wyandanch, Cops Say

A 24-year-old Wyandanch man was killed Wednesday afternoon after his bicycle collided with an ATV in his hometown, Suffolk County police said.

Inoe Dejesus Padilla was riding his bike around 4:15 p.m. when he steered into the path of an all-terrain vehicle traveling east on Davidson Street which struck him, police said.

Padilla and the operator of the ATV were both transported to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. Padilla was pronounced dead at the hospital. The 26-year-old ATV operator was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The ATV was impounded for a safety check, and the investigation is continuing, police said. Detectives ask anyone with information about the crash to call the First Squad at 631-854-8152.

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