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: [email protected] Twitter: rashedmian

Report: Denied Service, Veteran Commits Suicide at Northport VA Hospital

NorthportVA

A Long Island military veteran committed suicide Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center after allegedly being denied service, according to a report in The New York Times.

The veteran was identified as Peter Kaisen of Islip. He was 76 years old.

The Times, which was the first to report the story of his apparent suicide, quoted an anonymous hospital worker who claimed Kaisen “went to the E.R. and was denied service.”

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“And then he went to his car and shot himself,” the Northport VA worker told the Times.

According to the report, “[Kaisen] had been frustrated that he was unable to see an emergency room physician for reasons related to his mental health.”

“Someone dropped the ball,” one worker was quoted as saying. “They should not have turned him away.”

One of the workers noted that a psychologist is not typically available at all times at the emergency room. However, the Northport VAMC’s site claims “There is always a caring mental health doctor available 24/7 in our Emergency Room.”

Suffolk County Police Assistant Commissioner Justin Meyers said the department was notified about the incident at 12:07 p.m. on Sunday.

Responding officers found Kaisen dead outside his Toyota, Meyers said.

“Because this incident took place on federal property,” he added, “the FBI is now leading the investigation.”

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the agency’s involvement but said “there’s nothing criminal at this time.” She declined to say whether or not the death was related to suicide.

In a statement through spokesman Todd Goodman, the Northport VAMC, said: “There are no words to adequately convey our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and neighbors regarding the death of a 76 year-old Veteran found on the grounds of Northport VAMC.

“The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy,” the statement continued. “We are committed to addressing the needs of all Veterans who are in crisis, and want Veterans and their loved ones to know we stand ready to help whenever possible. The Veterans Crisis Line is a resource that connects Veterans in crisis with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Goodman said the Northport VAMC would not be conducting any interviews with media outlets due to the sensitive nature of the incident.

In the Times report, he was quoted as saying there “was no indication that [Kaisen] presented to the E.R. prior to the incident.”

Jennifer DiSiena, a spokeswoman for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), said the congressman is aware of the incident and is “trying to confirm details.”

“Our office has been monitoring the situation closely to try to piece everything together,” DiSiena said in a statement.

The VA released a study on veteran suicides in July which found that an average of 20 veterans each day take their own lives. Out of those daily suicide-related deaths, six were VA patients, according to the study, which used figures from 2014. In total, 41,425 US adults died by suicide that year, and 18 percent were identified as military veterans.

The tragic mental health crisis impacting veterans was documented in a 2015 report published by the Annals of Epidemeology, which concluded: “Veterans exhibit significantly higher suicide risk compared with the US general population.”

An announcement on the Moloney Family Funeral Homes website notes that Kaisen died on Sunday, Aug. 21.

“Devoted husband, beloved father, grandfather, cherished friend and brother,” reads the brief announcement.

Condolences poured in on the site, as people paid respects to the military veteran.

“We salute you sir,” reads just one of many tributes. “Your sacrifice for our country represents a staggering debt that can never be repaid. We pray for your family, your friends, and your soul. God bless you.”

“I read what happened to you,” another noted. “Your death is not in vain. Through your tragedy, may the bureaucrats change policies to help others that were in your situation.”

“As a Vet I would like to thank Mr Kaisen for his service and his family for their sacrifice,” a man who goes by Ed commented. “What a terrible shame it is when a veteran or anyone takes their life.”

The VA is no stranger to controversy.

Just two years ago, the Veterans Affairs medical system came under intense scrutiny when it was revealed that several veterans who were patients at a VA hospital in Phoenix died after prolonged waiting periods for treatment. Eric Shinseki, the VA Secretary at the time, resigned about a month after the scandal erupted.

The Press broke a story last year about the Northport VA’s controversial detention of former Marine-turned Occupy Wall Street activist Shamar Thomas, who was ironically held against his will at the facility in an attempt to help him. His confinement raised awareness about the many challenges facing his fellow servicemen and women as they return home from the battlefield.

Motorcycle Crashes into Cop Car, Shuts Down LIE

A motorcyclist rear-ended a Suffolk County police vehicle on the Long Island Expressway Wednesday afternoon, causing all westbound lanes to be shut down, police said.

The officer was attempting a U-turn at a designated area for emergency vehicles near Exit 52 at 1:25 p.m. when the motorcyclist struck the cop car from behind.

Traffic camera shows cops, firefighters descending on Wednesday afternoon crash.
Traffic camera shows cops, firefighters descending on Wednesday afternoon crash.

The motorcyclist suffered a serious head injury and was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital by police helicopter.

The officer was taken to Huntington Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Suffolk police said the names of the motorcyclist and the officer won’t be released until their respective family members are notified. Police did not say if any charges are pending.

All westbound lanes remained closed through most of Wednesday afternoon as investigators combed the crash site. A police spokesman told the Press it was unclear when the road would reopen.

Anyone with more information is asked to call Second Squad detectives at 631-854-8252.

Traffic cameras showed police cruisers and firetrucks at the scene of the crash and traffic at a stand still in both directions at Exit 52.

Strawberry’s Plea For Gooden Highlights Challenges Of Addiction

Doc Gooden

“At Death’s Door Step,” screamed the cover of Tuesday’s New York Daily News.

“Doc, we love you, but you have to stop using coke,” blared a previous day’s cover of the tabloid.

Inside Tuesday’s paper, former Mets great Dwight “Doc” Gooden denied he was suffering from drug addiction and instead lashed out at ex-teammate Darryl Strawberry for instigating a very public intervention through the media.

“I have to try something before he’s dead,” Strawberry told the News‘ respected baseball columnist John Harper. “He’s a complete junkie-addict. I have been trying behind the scenes to talk to him and get him to go for help, but he won’t listen.”

Public intervention ‘not helpful’

Gooden’s apparent drug problem, if that’s what is indeed ailing him, is now playing out in full view, for the entire world to see. And Strawberry has not held back. Neither has Gooden’s friend, Janice Roots, who told the News that the dynamic ex-pitcher had “morphed into a cocaine monster.”

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For the last few days, Gooden’s personal issues have been subject to daily scrutiny.

It all started when Gooden failed to appear at a WFAN radio station event with Strawberry last week. When pressed by a radio caller about Gooden’s absence, Strawberry said he feared the worst for Gooden.

But how effective are media-fueled interventions when someone is potentially deep in the throes of addiction?

Jeffrey Reynolds, who served five years as the executive director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) and is now the CEO and president of Family and Children’s Association, is not a believer in nudging addicts to intervention through shame and guilt.

“It’s not helpful,” Reynolds tells the Press. “I think generally it perpetuates the shame and stigma that goes along with addiction.

“It drives people underground. It makes it harder for them to get help rather than easier,” he continues. “If Darryl or anyone else really cared about Doc Gooden, they’d pick up the phone and have a private conversation rather than speculating and calling him out in public.”

In the interview with the Daily News that sparked this public feud between the two former teammates from the Mets’ hard-partying 1986 World Series championship team, Strawberry stressed that he reached out to Gooden prior to going public. Apparently that was ineffective.

Reynolds insists public shaming, even as a last ditch effort, is not the right move.

“I don’t think public pressure plays a role in someone’s willingness to get treatment,” he says. “I think it is quiet, kind, consistent—consistent being a key word—support.”

“This is happening between two former ballplayers, [but] these are conversations that are happening across Long Island every day in more homes than you can ever imagine,” Reynolds adds. “The reality is you can apply that gentle pressure, you can begin to institute consequences and those kinds of things, but we found consistent care and support over a period of time brings that person closer to treatment in a way that nothing else does.”

Still, Reynolds understands the motives.

“I think it’s well-intentioned,” Reynolds says of Strawberry’s attempt to help his friend through the media. “People understand that the consequences for untreated addiction include a whole number of things, not the least of which is death. And I think very often people will try one or two means to help that person get into treatment.

“If that fails, you begin pulling out all the stops, and my sense is that’s probably what’s happened here,” he continues. “But again nobody really knows if Doc Gooden is struggling with addiction or something else. It’s really hard to figure out what’s going on—and quite frankly, that’s why these should be private, not public conversations.”

Reynolds knows what addiction looks like. He’s seen it—in the eyes of struggling addicts and in doting family members working hard to get their loved ones the help they need. And it’s often shame, he says, that keeps people away from treatment centers.

“This is a disease that still carries an incredible amount of shame and stigma—and that shame and stigma is what frequently keeps people out of treatment,” Reynolds says. “Headlines like that perpetuate the shame and stigma. I don’t know if we do that for a lot of other diseases, but when it comes to diseases above the neck, everybody is more than happy to pile on.”

‘I don’t do cocaine’

Anthony Rizzuto, executive director of Families in Support of Treatment, an LI-based nonprofit that helps families of loved ones deal with addiction, echoes Reynolds’ sentiment—up to a point.

“Human beings are individuals and everybody reacts to things differently. When you deal with addiction, it is not an exact science,” Rizzuto tells the Press. “What might work for this patient completely has an adverse effect for the next patient.

“I think that guilt and shame is not a good way to go, but there are times when that’s been effective in helping people to be able to realize what dire straights they’re in, and, you know, suffer some of the consequences,” he adds.

Rizzuto says he’s trained in a model of intervention that’s opposed to utilizing blame and guilt to persuade an addict to accept help. Not until all methods are considered does Rizzuto believe this last ditch effort is warranted.

“This wouldn’t be the way I would lead,” he says. “This would be after failed attempts using different methods. And I have to believe that that’s happened already.”

Gooden, who demonstrated Hall of Fame potential upon making it to the Big Leagues with the Mets in ’84, first sought help for cocaine addiction in ’87—his fifth season in the majors. Gooden put together a remarkable run with the Mets during his first six years with the team, making four All-Star games and posting a sub-3.00 ERA four times. His best year came in 1985, when he won 24 games and struck out 268 batters and gave up an average of 1.53 runs per game.

That Hall of Fame-worthy stretch, however, also included run-ins with the law and a stint at a drug treatment center.

In a statement late Monday, Gooden said, “I don’t do cocaine and have not for years.” He went on to criticize Strawberry, another former Met who battled drug addiction, for going public.

“I had always been supportive of Darryl, during his best and worst days,” Gooden said. “I recall the time he was in prison, and I was there for him. I recall the times he struggled with his own addiction, and I was there for him then, too. I had never failed to be there for Darryl Strawberry.

“Last Thursday night, I was unable to attend an event at WFAN with Darryl,” he continued. “There were plenty of times when Darryl was unable to attend events as well. No one, most of all me, made any big deal out of [Strawberry’s] absence, nor should they have had.”

 

(Featured photo: Dwight Gooden during Mets spring training in 1986. Credit: Jeff Marquis)

LIRR Mobile Tickets Have (Finally) Arrived

LIRR
Long Island Rail Road Station. (Photo by Joe Abate)

Welcome to the 21st century, Long Island Rail Road.

The LIRR announced Monday that its mobile ticket app—MTA eTix—has been released system-wide and is now available for download on iPhone and Android smartphones.

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The free app allows riders to purchase digital tickets on all 11 LIRR branches prior to visiting a station.

It also means that Long Islanders equipped with the app will no longer have to race to a ticket booth before catching the train.

Riders have a variety of ticket-purchasing options to choose from via the app, including one-way, round-trip and monthly tickets. To get started, users must create an account and link it to a credit or a debit card. After purchasing the ticket, riders can activate the ticket in order for it to be validated by an LIRR employee on board a train. Multiple tickets can be purchased by a single rider using the app.

Last month Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that LIRR e-tickets would be available on all railroad lines by summer’s end. At the time, the technology was only available on the Port Washington branch.

Screenshot of the LIRR's MTA eTix tutorial.
Screenshot of the LIRR’s MTA eTix tutorial.

“This e-ticket system for the railroads is where the economy is now,” Cuomo said back in July. “You take out your device. You scan it, and you pay for something. That’s how it works, and that’s how it’s going to work on the railroads.”

Cuomo also joked how the Metropolitan Transit Authority once used chalkboards to display train times. His point: the slow-churning wheels of the MTA bureaucracy is making progress.

“It’s bringing the railroads to the same level of technology as most services, which is an extraordinary upgrade in the case of the MTA,” Cuomo said.

LIRR customers who prefer paper tickets won’t have to worry about ticket booths going the way of antenna TVs since the agency will keep ticket machines operational.

Along with a full rollout on the LIRR, the app is also now available on all Metro-North branches.

Muslim American Women Speak Out Against Stereotypes

Muslim Americans

Talat Hamdani has advocated for Muslim Americans since her son died trying to save the lives of his fellow New Yorkers on Sept. 11. Inspired to serve her country after the horrific attacks, Nasrin Ahmad’s daughter decided that she wanted to be a federal prosecutor. Isma Chaudhry broke the glass ceiling to become the Islamic Center of Long Island’s first female president. Daisy Khan empowers Muslim women across the world.

These are the faces of American Muslims.

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The week-long spat between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the family of a slain U.S. Muslim soldier has inspired Muslim Americans to speak out.

The discussion prompted the Twitter hashtag “CanYouHearMeNow” among Muslim women, and, in a way, shifted the focus of the often-Islamophobic discussion about Muslim Americans away from terror and instead to their contributions to American society.

“Go to any hospital…see how many (female) doctors we have. Go to school. There are female Muslim American teachers there,” said Nasrin Ahmad, Hempstead’s town clerk, and the first person from South Asia to be elected in New York State. “Go anywhere—engineers, lawyers, my own child.”

Talat Hamdani (left) advocates for Muslim Americans on Long Island (Photo: Christopher Twarowski / Long Island Press). Nasrin Ahmad (right) is the clerk of the Town of Hempstead.
Talat Hamdani (left) advocates for Muslim Americans on Long Island (Photo: Christopher Twarowski / Long Island Press). Nasrin Ahmad (right) is the clerk of the Town of Hempstead.

The role of Muslim Americans—and Muslim American women, in particular—in American culture took center stage last week after Trump questioned why Ghazala Khan, the mother of a U.S. soldier who died in Iraq in 2004, had remained silent as her husband, Khizr Khan, spoke passionately onstage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The implication being that Ghazala Khan’s religion, and her husband’s presence, somehow precluded her from speaking out publicly.

“Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain,” Ghazala Khan wrote in a widely-read Washington Post Op-Ed last weekend. “I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.”

The confrontation between Trump and the Khans, which has played out on cable television and on the Internet for the last week, is remarkable, because despite bipartisan condemnations regarding Trump’s proposed ban of foreign Muslims from entering the United States, no one has effectively humanized Muslim Americans.

Until now.

“He was really speaking about not only his son’s sacrifice and clarifying this misconception that Muslims are just a national security threat, he also was in fact saying that Muslims are very patriotic,” Daisy Khan, founder of Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), which serves to amplify the voice of Muslim women across the globe, told the Press. “I felt by just straightening out the record on that was a very, very powerful moment.”

Isma Chaudhry ICLI
On Jan. 1, 2015 Isma Chaudhry became the first-ever female president of the Islamic Center of Long Island. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)

The role Muslim American women play in shaping America has also taken on greater significance.

Two years ago, Isma Chaudhry became the first woman to serve as president of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury. Before taking office, she had devoted her life to interfaith outreach and helping people better understand Islamic culture and traditions.

When the ICLI condemns terror attacks, it’s Chaudhry who speaks out. When the mosque holds interfaith gatherings, it’s Chaudhry who addresses the many faith communities on LI. She’s the voice of an entire congregation.

“I am the president of a mosque, which is not just a women’s mosque, it’s cross-ethnicity,” Chaudhry told the Press. “We have family members who are congregants. We have people who are very orthodox who are members of this mosque, and people who are not orthodox who have all kinds of religious views that are members of this mosque. And for them to take my leadership with grace and respect, that shows that that religion doesn’t really put any constraints on how far and how high women can go.”

Before she became the clerk of Hempstead Town in 2013, Nasrin Ahmad, a Republican, was a stay-at-home mom-turned-PTA president and founder of what was then called the Human Dignity Committee at her local school district. She soon started working part-time for the Town of Hempstead.


“Your heart jumps a beat when you see your son’s picture in the screen in front of you or behind you—you gasp.”


Her own children have also devoted themselves to this country, she said. After graduating law school, her daughter decided she wanted to be a federal prosecutor. One of her sons is a volunteer EMT.

“She decided to go for public service because…she knew that Muslims were getting a bad rap, and she wanted to be a federal prosecutor. She wanted to protect this country,” Ahmad said of her daughter, who felt the pull of public service after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Ahmad, who was born in Uganda and raised in London, hopes her own life serves as an inspiration for young Muslim Americans.

Daisy Khan
Daisy Khan is the founder of Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE).

“I do not hide that I’m an American Muslim female,” Ahmad told the Press. “I hope that my day-to-day life and being out there and showing who I am does educate people.”

Like the Khans, Talat Hamdani’s advocacy was borne out of tragedy.

Her son, Salman, an NYPD cadet, was killed along with nearly 3,000 other Americans when the World Trade Towers came crashing down on Sept. 11. Salman had taken the No. 7 Manhattan-bound train into the city that day. Instead of heading to work, he rushed toward the Twin Towers. In the early days following the attack, he was erroneously considered a person of interest.

Hamdani can relate to the paralyzing grief the Khans live with when they talk about their son.

“Your heart jumps a beat when you see your son’s picture in the screen in front of you or behind you—you gasp,” she told the Press.

Fighting for her son, first to have his name cleared and later to receive recognition for his heroism, has helped ease the pain.

“His sacrifice has put me on a platform: ‘Mama, go advocate for the community,'” she said, as if it’s her son’s voice still carrying her through each day.

Hamdani fights for all Muslim Americans, she said, and she’s always willing to answer the call—just like Salman.

“The women of Islam have the same right as everyone,” she said. “Islam does not suppress women—women have the same rights as a man.”

Man Found Dead Outside Shuttered Glen Cove Restaurant

A 25-year-old Hispanic man was found stabbed to death outside the shuttered Chama Portuguese restaurant in Glen Cove Friday morning, Nassau County police said.

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The gruesome discovery was made by a Glen Cove City worker at 7:28 a.m., police said. The worker then notified police.

The unidentified victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities are now searching for the man’s killer.

“This is not a random act of violence,” Det. Capt. John Azzata, Nassau police’s Homicide Squad commander, told reporters at the scene of the slaying. “We believe this individual was targeted.”

“All avenues of this investigation are still wide open,” said Azzata, adding that no suspects are in custody.

The homicide chief declined to reveal the number of stab wounds.

Police had yet to nail down a time of death as of Friday afternoon, but an autopsy may help reveal when the incident occurred, Azzata said.

“The garbage people this morning came to me and said somebody dead,” a neighboring shop owner said, referring to City of Glen Cove sanitation workers. He said he wasn’t aware of what happened.

A group of people consoling one another in a small shopping center next door to where the stabbing occurred declined to comment.

Police said anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.

Takeaways From Hillary Clinton’s Acceptance Speech, Day 4 At DNC

Hillary Clinton nomination

A poised Hillary Clinton officially accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday during a sprawling speech steeped in history, as she became the first woman from a major party to be nominated for the position.

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Clinton shared an emotional embrace with her daughter Chelsea Clinton, whom introduced her to the crowd just after 10 p.m. In her remarks, Chelsea portrayed Clinton as a doting mother and grandmother who was always there for her in her time of need. It was the sort of personal touch some observers suggested had been missing from her campaign.

Clinton, the former first lady, U.S. Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator from New York, spoke for about an hour as she outlined why the American public should trust her to sit in the Oval Office. Her speech also served as a stinging rebuke of her Republican competitor Donald Trump, who she cast as woefully unfit to be president.

“America is once again at a moment of reckoning,” said Clinton, as she spoke about American patriots in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago, who, despite their differences, banded together to “stand up to a King.”

“Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” she added. “Bonds of trust and respect are fraying.”

Speaking of her rival, Clinton ridiculed the reality TV star and real estate tycoon for having thin skin when provoked.

“Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” Clinton told the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

Clinton also used the moment to reach out to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) supporters—saying, “Your cause is our cause”—and acknowledging that when it comes to public service, “the ‘service’ part has always come easier.”

That’s just a taste of what happened Thursday during the closing day at the DNC.

As we say goodbye—thankfully—to convention season, here are four takeaways from Day 4 at the DNC.

Breaking the glass ceiling

Clinton became the first woman from a major U.S. political party to be nominated for president, an achievement that wasn’t lost on her Thursday night.

“Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come,” she said. “Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between.”

“Happy for boys and men, too—because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone,” Clinton continued. “When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit. So let’s keep going, until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves.”

Once criticized by Trump for using the “Woman Card,” Clinton embraced the comment.

“In America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it,” she said, while explaining that small businesses need a boost. “We’re going to help you balance family and work. And you know what, if fighting for affordable child care and paid family leave is playing the ‘Woman Card,’ then deal me in!”

Clinton is not the first woman to be a presidential nominee. Most recently, Green Party candidate Jill Stein ran in 2012 and is the party’s candidate again for this election.

Still, the former chief U.S. diplomat’s nomination has served as an inspiration for countless women.

Clinton accepts limitations

The Democratic nominee prodded Trump for suggesting during his convention speech that he alone would cure all of America’s ills.

One of his major claims last week in Cleveland was that he’d rid American streets of crime.

“Don’t believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it,’” Clinton told the crowd Thursday.

“Really? I alone can fix it? Isn’t he forgetting troops on the front lines? Police officers and firefighters who run toward danger? Doctors and nurses who care for us? Teachers who change lives?”

Clinton was making the point that running a country isn’t a job for one person—even a president.

“None of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community, or lift a country totally alone,” she said. “America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger.”

Khizr Khan steals the show

One of the most powerful moments of the convention did not belong to one of the A-list politicians that took the stage over the course of four days, but to Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Muslim U.S. soldier.

Khan’s role was clear, given Trump’s proposals over the course of the primary and now the presidential campaign. Trump has called for foreign Muslims to be banned from the United States, suggested Muslims be placed in a database and tracked, and called for surveillance of mosques in the country.

Khan’s speech had the crowd in Philadelphia on its feet as he honored his son and lamented that his child would never be able to live out his dream of fighting for his country if policies Trump has proposed were in place when he emigrated here.

Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004 after he ordered his soldiers to back away from an oncoming vehicle filled with explosives. While they took cover, Khan approached the car and lost his life when it exploded.

“If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” Khan said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges; even his own party leadership.”

“Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future,” an emotional Khan continued. “Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States constitution?” Khan then pulled out a pocket-sized copy from his suit jacket, prompting cheers from the crowd.

“I will gladly lend you my copy,” he told Trump.

Khan wasn’t done.

“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities.”

In his most stinging rebuke, Khan said: “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

The speech prompted enthusiastic cheers in the arena and online.

Conservatives also embraced Khan’s speech.

Watch Khan’s full speech:

Reeling in Bernie Sanders’ supporters

It’s clear that after all the reconciliation, teaming with Sanders to pen a progressive Democratic platform and continuous nods to the Vermont Senator during the course of four days, Clinton is still trying to court his loyal supporters.

Clinton formally thanked Sanders for inspiring millions to get involved in the political process. And she wasn’t shy about appealing to those key voters, mostly young people, on a national stage.

“To all of your supporters here and around the country: I want you to know, I’ve heard you,” she claimed. “Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion. That’s the only way we can turn our progressive platform into real change for America. We wrote it together–now let’s go out there and make it happen together.”

There were reports of Sanders’ supporters openly protesting Clinton’s speech verbally or through silent demonstrations.

A Sanders supporter from Long Island who spoke to the Press following Day 2 of the convention said she wouldn’t vote for Clinton on Election Day. Why? The way she framed it, there are many people who still don’t trust her. She also met many protesters in Philadelphia who still can’t bring themselves to vote for her. But there are a large number of Sanders primary voters who have said they’ll be voting for Clinton, even if it’s simply an anti-Trump vote.

Clinton has 100 days left in the campaign to convince them to back her. That’s a lot of time. But that also gives Trump ample opportunity to reach out to Independents who voted for Sanders and try to sway them, too.

Whatever the case, Election Day can’t come soon enough.

(Featured photo: Adam Schultz for Hillary for America/flickr)

Obama Takes On Trump’s Vision Of America In DNC Speech

Democratic National Convention

There was a point toward the end of President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night when he talked about the American values instilled in him by his Kansas grandparents.

“They came from the heartland,” Obama told the partisan crowd in Philadelphia, drawing cheers, especially from the Kansas delegation.

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“And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn’t like show-offs,” he added. “They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, what they valued were traits like honesty and hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility, helping each other out. That’s what they believed in. True things. Things that last. The things we try to teach our kids.”

This was Obama’s vision of America: a place where people want to work hard and provide for their families. His portrait came in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s dystopian outlook of a crime-ridden nation seemingly on the verge of inescapable collapse that the billionaire tycoon depicted last week in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. Unless, of course, one man—Trump—can ride to victory in November against Hillary Clinton and reinstate law and order, actually end crime, obliterate the self-proclaimed Islamic State, shore up the country’s Mexican border, and prevent foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities,” Trump said last week during his acceptance speech. “Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims.

“I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,” he added. “Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”

Obama painted a different picture in Philadelphia. This was likely Obama’s last major speech as president, and it came on the eve of Hillary Clinton’s historic acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president, making her the first woman to be nominated by a major American party.

Although Obama spent parts of his 45-minute address lacing into Trump—he called him a “no plans” guy and evoked “homegrown demagogues” in the same line as communists and Jihadists—the president was seeking to refute Trump’s narrative of an America on the brink of disaster.

This vision was not lost on some conservatives.

Obama also tried to make the case that America’s best days are still ahead.

“That is America. Those bonds of affection, that common creed. We don’t fear the future. We shape it,” he said. “We embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own.

“That’s what Hillary Clinton understands—this fighter, this stateswoman, this mother and grandmother, this public servant, this patriot—that’s the America she’s fighting for,” Obama said.

For all the focus on what constitutes “real America,” Obama also sought to mobilize the Democratic base: urging all voters to exhibit the same passion as Bernie Sanders’ supporters and hit the polls on Election Day.

“If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote—not just for a president, but for mayors and sheriffs and state’s attorneys and state legislators,” he said.

When the Democratic faithful booed at the mere mention of Trump’s name, Obama urged them to turn their distaste into action.

“Don’t boo,” he insisted. “Vote!”

Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention also included fiery speeches from Vice President Joe Biden and his potential successor, Clinton’s VP pick, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Biden, who has made a career out of appearing to be cut out of the same cloth as middle-class Americans, questioned Trump’s commitment to workers.

“No matter where you were raised. How can there be pleasure in saying ‘You’re fired?’” asked Biden. “He’s trying to tell us he cares about the middle-class? Give me a break. That’s a bunch of malarkey.”

Kaine also questioned Trump’s devotion to working-class people.

“So here’s the question, here’s the question: Do you really believe him?” Kaine asked the audience. “I mean, Donald Trump’s whole career says you had better not.”

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was a Republican when he ran for city hall and is now an independent, made a prime-time appearance to denounce Donald Trump’s business acumen speaking as one billionaire about another. Calling Trump a “dangerous demagogue” and a “risky, reckless and radical choice” for the White House, Bloomberg cited Trump’s half dozen bankruptcies as a real estate developer and called out his hypocrisy for saying he’d protect American jobs despite having his Trump products made overseas by cheap labor.

“Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s running his business? God help us!” Bloomberg said. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”

Tellingly, New York City’s current mayor, Bill de Blasio, a liberal Democrat, spoke around 5:30 p.m. when the hall was nearly empty. In 2000, he’d run Clinton’s successful campaign to become a New York Senator.

Thursday night it’s Hillary Clinton’s turn to take the stage in prime-time for the most anticipated speech of her political life. No doubt the hall will be packed and millions of people will be tuning to watch. The question remains: Will Americans trust her? She still has a lot to prove.

(Photo credit: Michael Davidson for Hillary for America/flickr)

Long Island Delegates React to Hillary Clinton’s Historic Nomination

Hillary Clinton nominated

Love her, loathe her, or leave her alone, Hillary Clinton made history Tuesday when the Democratic National Convention nominated her as the first woman nominee for U.S. president from any of the two major political parties.

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When the former U.S. Secretary of State’s nomination became official, Democratic delegates from Long Island enthusiastically cheered the historic result.

History

“To see Hillary nominated was a life moment,” said Maureen Liccione, a delegate from Brightwaters, who was speaking to the Press from Philadelphia where the convention continued on its third day. “For a little girl growing up in the late ’50s and ’60s, I could never have imagined there would ever be a woman nominated for president.

“But it’s not just a woman; it’s this woman, who I’ve come to know, admire and respect since she first ran for the senate,” she added. “I am thrilled beyond words.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called Day 2 of the DNC, specifically the roll call, a “unifying moment.”

“Obviously it was a historic moment for the country,” Bellone told the Press in a phone interview from Philadelphia. “For all the talk of unity, that process really went very well, with the Bernie Sanders people—you know, who worked so hard and were so passionate about their candidate and their issues—having the opportunity to cast their votes, and then at the end to have Bernie Sanders himself basically deliver the nomination by acclamation, I think was an important moment and changed the direction of the convention.”

So Clinton is finally the nominee for president of the United States. When she was New York’s Senator eight years ago, she sought the same position during a particularly acrimonious primary battle against then-Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois.

The last eight years brought her more scrutiny, contempt from her opponents, and a barrage of attacks associated with her handling of a private email server during her time as the nation’s chief diplomat as well as her perceived foreign policy failures in the Obama administration.

Still, Clinton persevered.

Clinton will officially accept the nomination Thursday night in prime time. She made a brief appearance on the big screen overlooking the convention podium late Tuesday night via satellite from New York. That moment, when she was shown standing amid a small crowd of young women and girls, was preceded by a dramatic shattering of the glass ceiling to symbolize the historic nature of her presidential nomination. As she told the audience from the live video feed, “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”

Change-Maker

The evening also saw her husband, former President Bill Clinton, provide a sweeping portrait of the “real” Hillary Clinton, not the “cartoon” her opponents have created and repeatedly mocked.

“Cartoons are two-dimensional. They’re easy to absorb,” said Bill Clinton. “Life in the world is complicated, and real change is hard. And a lot of people even think it is boring. Good for you, because earlier today you nominated the real one.”

It was an atypical speech for the former president. Instead of going on the offensive or going on about himself, Bill Clinton essentially narrated a biography of his wife’s life—from the day they met at Yale Law School, their courtship and all the way through parenthood.

Along the way he highlighted Clinton’s major political and social achievements around the country to debunk the perception that she’s a product of the status quo. She moved from state to state as a young lawyer, he said, trying to reinforce the message that she sought to help people.

“She is a change-maker,” he insisted. “That is what she does.”

The former two-term president’s speech was well-received, LI delegates said. And his message seemed to hit its mark.

“There’s Hillary, and then there’s the comic book version of Hillary,” said Liccione, borrowing one of Bill Clinton’s most memorable lines of the night.

“I thought it was really interesting, because you haven’t seen an in-depth, personal, biographical look at Hillary Clinton and all the work she’s done over the decades for children and families,” said Bellone.

Trying To Unite

For the first two days of the convention, the Democratic Party establishment has gone to great lengths to try to appease Sanders’ legion of supporters—a passionate group that feels betrayed by the party, especially after WikiLeaks published emails from Democratic National Committee employees showing their favoritism toward Clinton, despite purporting to remain independent. The leak, which came from 20,000 emails purportedly hacked by two Russian intelligence agencies, cost DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job.

Meanwhile Sanders has done his part to bridge the divide. He gave a full-throated endorsement of Clinton during his highly anticipated speech Monday evening. In fact, when he came to the podium, he was greeted with an ovation that lasted several minutes before he could begin. On Tuesday, when it was Vermont’s turn during the roll call, Sanders moved to suspend the procedural rules, so he could nominate his primary rival for president by acclamation.

But Clinton’s campaign hasn’t had the same luck winning over some of Sanders’ more passionate die-hard supporters.

Sandra Garay Aliva, a Sanders backer from Long Island, told the Press from Philadelphia that she is unlikely to vote for Clinton.

“I think in the beginning I really didn’t know much about her. I didn’t have anything against her,” Aliva said over the phone. “And just by doing my research and hearing about some of her policies, yeah, I am against voting for her now. I know people will say, ‘What are your other options…a Trump presidency?’ I’m just tired of when I go to vote, I’m just tired of holding my noise and just choosing the lesser of two evils, because that’s how you vote sometimes.”

Aliva says that Clinton is untrustworthy. She criticized the former U.S. Senator from New York for celebrating New York State’s $15 minimum wage law, despite her proposing only a $12 federal minimum wage.

“When I look at those things, she flip-flops on issues, and it just shows she’s not an honest person…and she doesn’t have enough integrity for me,” Aliva said.

But she’s also worried about Donald Trump’s winning the election. Recent polls have given him a three- to four-point lead over Clinton following last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“Either way,” Aliva said, “this country is just a mess.”

It’s unclear how many Sanders voters Clinton will have to reel in to secure victory in the Electoral College. But those who do have Clinton’s back are confident she’ll win, nonetheless.

On Thursday in Philadelphia, they’ll get to see Clinton, the official nominee, firsthand.

“I think what we’re going to see is the next president of the United States,” said Liccione.

(Photo credit: Samuel Fisch for Hillary for America)

Cops: Suspects Shouted Anti-Muslim Slurs & Threatened To Kill Gas Station Clerks

Nassau County police are searching for two suspects who went on an anti-Muslim rant and threatened to kill two Cedarhurst gas station clerks because of their religion, police said.

The incident, which occurred at a Shell gas station on Rockaway Avenue on Saturday night, is also being investigated as a potential bias crime due to the suspects’ racial slurs and anti-Muslim remarks.

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According to police, the two suspects—a man and a woman—grew angry after they were denied “slushies” because the gas station wasn’t able to make the frozen beverages at that time. They became more enraged when a store clerk denied their use of an electronic food stamps card to purchase several other unidentified items.

That prompted the woman to throw food at the clerk and “to use racial slurs, anti-Muslim remarks and threatened to kill both store clerks,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, the police department’s chief spokesman, at a press conference Monday at police headquarters in Mineola.

When one of the clerks demanded they leave, the male suspect pushed a New York State Lotto machine to the ground, causing $4,000 worth of damage, LeBrun said. The man also launched a 6-foot metal cart and two bottles of antifreeze in the clerks’ direction, he added.

Prior to fleeing the store, the pair repeated their anti-Muslim remarks and physical threats.

LeBrun declined to go into specifics about what was said, reiterating that they were “very disparaging and very harmful remarks.”

Anti-Muslim attack
Nassau County police are searching for these two suspects, who they say shouted anti-Muslim remarks at a gas station clerk

“I’m just going to basically state that they were derogatory, and they did threaten to kill them based on their religious and ethnic origin,” LeBrun said.

A manager at the gas station told the Press he wasn’t working Saturday but he was informed the woman shouted, “Kill him! Kill him!” to her companion.

“They messed up the place,” said the manager, who wished only to be identified by his initials, G.S.

The manager said this was the first time in three decades that anything like this had happened.

“Even in 9/11 [this] never happened,” he told the Press. “I don’t know what was in their mind.”

G.S. said he didn’t know what specifically was said during the altercation.

At the press conference, LeBrun said bias crimes “will not be tolerated in Nassau County.”

Although police are investigating the incident as a possible bias crime, LeBrun said authorities believe it was the clerk’s insistence that “slushies” were unavailable that sparked the outburst.

The suspects were last seen fleeing the store northbound on Rockaway Avenue. The man was described as black, wearing a black shirt, shorts, and a blue baseball cap that was turned backwards. The woman was described as black, wearing a white shirt, shorts and long, black, braided hair.

Authorities are analyzing video footage and information regarding the electronic food stamps card.

Detectives ask anyone with information about the crime to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.

(Featured photo: Tony Webster/Creative Commons License)

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