Rashed Mian

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

Jews Visit Long Island Mosque to Show Support & Learn About Islam

long island mosque

As she meticulously outlined the tenets of Islam to a small contingent of congregants from a nearby synagogue, Dr. Isma Chaudhry recalled how it was not too long ago that her own son objected to studying his parent’s religion, saying: “I don’t want to be Muslim.”

“Well, what do you want to be?” Chaudhry asked.

“Jewish,” her young son replied.

“We have one book, and they have six,” she reminded her son. He quickly changed his tone.

Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, was serving a similar role on Friday: as an educator. Yet instead of her son, her students were a dozen or so members of The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, laughing as Chaudhry recalled her son’s brief misgivings.

The event, held an hour before the first of two well-attended Friday prayers, provided the synagogue’s congregation the opportunity to ask questions they’ve often pondered but never sought answers to about Islam. What became apparent early on, were the similarities the two religions share—commonalities often obscured by ancient struggles that are still ongoing.

“We want to be here to show our support and solidarity,” said Rabbi Danny Burkeman. He then presented Chaudhry and the mosque’s members a gift—a gesture Chaudhry felt especially grateful for. Burkeman added that it was important to stand “shoulder to shoulder” amid tumultuous times.

Burkeman did not elaborate, but it was clear to anyone what he meant. Muslim Americans have for years been battling stereotypes and contending with ever-growing Islamophobia. The recent travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, one of three key points to President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order, has Muslims on edge.

On Thursday, a three-member panel of a federal appeals court in San Francisco unanimously objected to the government’s argument that a lower court’s freeze on the travel ban be reversed—a huge win for rights groups and a stunning loss for the young administration.

On Friday, however, there was no talk of bans or the nation’s security. What unfolded instead was a discussion about the pillars of Islam—fasting, donating and five daily prayers, for example—and the intersection of religion, politics, and current affairs in sermons.

“Anyone can come to a mosque, whether they’re a member or non-member,” Chaudhry said. “We cannot say ‘no’ to anyone coming in.”

She noted that prayers can run up to an hour, depending on the mosque. The content of the prayers may often include topical remarks, such as the weather or social strife. It’s a combination of “the religion, the social, the political aspects and putting it in a religious perspective,” she said.

“We talk too much as clergy,” Rabbi Burkeman joked.

Some members of the congregants were surprised to hear that upwards of 600 worshippers attend Friday prayers at ICLI.

“They cannot wiggle their way to stand next to their best friend,” Chaudhry said through a smile, noting that worshippers fill in the first opening they see.

Addressing suggestions from the outside that Muslim women are treated “badly” because they sit at the back of a mosque, Chaudhry said such a standard is about “honoring the modesty of women.”

“In a spiritual mode, you want your own space,” she added.

After explaining the similarities between Islam and Judaism—which share many of the same prophets—a member of the Port Washington synagogue characterized the struggles between the religions as a “tragic irony.”

The two religions are so “closely connected, but yet there’s so much conflict,” he lamented.

Afterward, those in attendance grabbed signs, one of which read “Jews support our Muslim neighbors,” and formed a circle around the entrance of the mosque, greeting worshippers as they entered.

Count Jeremiah Bosgang, 55, of Port Washington, was someone who walked away with a deeper understanding.

“It’s just really interesting, really fascinating to me because I’ve had very little exposure in my life to Islam or to Muslim culture,” he told the Press. “So to come to the mosque and to hear different people speak about the tradition and what it means to them—and hear, really, about all the similarities with my own Jewish tradition, it’s really amazing.”

Friday’s gathering was the second such meeting between Muslim and Jewish communities in as many weeks. Chaudhry said she expects to invite more people to the mosque.

Dr. Safdar Chadda, ICLI’s first president, said different faith groups should always welcome people with open arms.

“We are children of God and our commonality is the same traditions,” he said.

Told of statistics that show the vast majority of Americans don’t have a personal relationship with a Muslim—a religious bloc that accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. population—Chadda was not surprised.

“That’s why we’re telling everybody, ‘talk to your neighbors,’” he said. For instance, he added, a couple went door-to-door Thursday helping neighbors during the blizzard. “We are your Muslim neighbors,” they told people.

“Humanity is common,” Chadda said.

Bone-Chilling Temps Greet LIers Following Blizzard

Long Island polar vortex

One day after the first major storm of the year left Long Island with over a foot of snow, residents awoke to bitterly cold temperatures and wind chills in the single digits—nothing remotely resembling the 60-degree day earlier in the week.

Friday’s forecast is calling for bone-chilling temperatures in the high 20s and wind chill values in the single digits, along with a chance of light snow—possibly a half-inch—in the evening.

This is probably not the reprieve Long Islanders were hoping for after a blizzard dumped upwards of 16 inches of snow on parts of the region on Thursday. The storm lasted half a day, kicking off at 4 a.m. before finally tapering off around sunset.

How much snow fell?

Commuters taking to the rails Friday morning were met with system-wide delays of up to 15 minutes on the Long Island Rail Road. The railroad blamed the winter storm for the hold up. If the lingering impact of the previous day’s storm wasn’t enough, the LIRR for the second consecutive day cancelled nine morning trains because of Wednesday’s derailment at Jamaica station, which is under investigation.

Meanwhile, many schools on LI remained closed as workers continued the tough slog of cleaning up the mess the storm left behind.

Perhaps the only silver lining from Friday’s storm was officials had early notice that a powerful system was barreling toward the Island, allowing crews to treat roads as they braced for the storm. Yet the deluge—and whiteout conditions—made it difficult at times for crews to clear roads as the storm thundered across LI. At one point, more than two inches of snow was falling per hour, forecasters said.

All day, officials urged drivers to stay clear of the roads to allow plows to do their job.

Aside from the possibility of light snow later in the evening, Long Islanders could expect a mostly dry day Friday.

Forecasters are calling for a 30-percent chance of light snow early Saturday with temperatures kicking up to a high of 45. Sunday could bring rain and temperatures will remain in the 40s.

Intense Blizzard Dumps Over a Foot of Snow on Long Island

Snow plows clear Sunrise Highway in East Islip during a winter storm in 2015 (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)

A mostly unremarkable winter on Long Island took a sudden turn Thursday when a fast-moving blizzard walloped the region, dumping more than a foot of snow, and causing dozens of accidents on slick roadways.

The winter storm, the first major weather event of 2017, did not cripple the region like past storms but was dangerous enough for officials to urge drivers to avoid roads, which they said were “treacherous.”

Whipping winds and rapidly falling snow spawned whiteout conditions at the storm’s peak—which lasted for several hours. The Long Island Rail Road, which began the day at a disadvantage due to a derailment the previous morning, experienced system-wide delays but benefitted from low ridership. The island’s power grid held up, with just a smattering of power outages throughout the day.

The concern now is that freezing temperatures could make snow-covered roads particularly hazardous. Strong wind gusts will also continue through the evening, leading to episodes of “blowing snow,” the National Weather Service said.

The storm began its jaunt across LI at 4 a.m. It intensified just as the morning commute got underway and steamrolled through the region. The storm did not begin to taper off until about 5 p.m.

In separate morning news conferences, officials from Nassau and Suffolk warned drivers about the potential for hazardous conditions and urged drivers to remain off the road. Still, for some residents, staying off the roads was not an option. Authorities reported dozens of vehicle accidents, including 88 in Nassau County alone.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency in response to the powerful storm.

At a press conference in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that Long Island was enduring the worst of the storm—yet again.

“Once again, Nassau, Suffolk, Long Island will bear the brunt of the storm,” he told reporters. “I don’t know what Nassau and Suffolk did to offend Mother Nature but they did something, somewhere along the way because it seems like Mother Nature always packs an especially potent punch for Nassau and Suffolk.”

As snowfall totals began to trickle in, it became clear quite early that Suffolk was suffering the most from the storm’s wrath. By the early afternoon, more than a half-dozen communities recorded more than a foot of snow—a number that was sure to grow as the day progressed.

Authorities did not report any storm-related deaths, but incidents were aplenty. In Nassau, the Long Island Expressway’s westbound lanes were temporarily closed following a multi-car crash involving a tractor trailer.

Officials said there were several cars stuck on LIE exit ramps and disabled motorists across the region.

The governor never had to take the extreme step of closing the LIE, as he had in previous storms.

The storm may have retreated as quick as it came, but crews will likely work through the night, if not the morning, to clean up its remnants.

Cuomo Says LI Bearing Brunt of Storm, Doesn’t Rule Out Closing LIE

free tuition

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday found himself in a familiar position: cataloguing the state’s efforts battling yet another major storm while lamenting that Long Island was “once again” enduring the worst.

“It seems like Mother Nature packs an especially potent punch for Nassau and Suffolk,” Cuomo said at a press conference Thursday at noon.

Of all the regions in the state, Long Island was taking the brunt of the storm, which is expected to last until 6 p.m.—well into the evening rush hour.

“Don’t underestimate the potential danger,” Cuomo said. “Visibility is going to be very low. The snow is at a problematic level.”

Cuomo encouraged residents to heed warnings from local officials that people stay off the roads because of dangerous conditions and to avoid interfering with plow operators.

Despite his calls for diligence, Cuomo said the state is not currently considering closing any roads, but he didn’t rule it out entirely. For Long Island, that could mean that the Long Island Expressway, which was temporary closed on the westbound side due to a tractor-trailer crash, could potentially be shut down.

“One car gets stuck, that backs up 15 cars,” Cuomo said, which could impede the progress of tow trucks and plows.

He said a decision whether to suspend travel on the LIE or not could come later, but at a 2 p.m. news conference in Dix Hills he still kept Route 495 open.

“You don’t want to overreact, you don’t want to underreact,” Cuomo said. “I tend to err on the side of caution.”

The state in the past has ordered drivers off the LIE under the threat of possible traffic violations.

“Come rush hour, the traffic increases, the snow increases, the visibility decreases,” Cuomo said. “This is a potentially dangerous situation.”

He urged those who went to work despite the storm to leave early to allow more time for plow operators to clear the snow. 

Long Island is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. Suffolk County has declared a state of emergency, as has some town governments. The region is expected to get smacked with upwards of 18 inches of snow. The storm intensified around mid-morning and snow was falling at a rate of more than 2 inches an hour at one point, according to the National Weather Service’s Upton office.

To avoid road congestion, Cuomo urged business owners to release workers early, if possible. Additionally, the Long Island Rail Road is deploying several “getaway” trains to lessen ridership later in the day. The LIRR, which had “very low ridership” Thursday morning, is currently experiencing system-wide delays of up to 30 minutes, officials said.

The governor does not anticipate area airports to come to a halt but there have already been mass cancellations and delays. John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports combined had more than 1,300 canceled flights. The governor urged anyone planning to fly today to call their airline before going to the airport.

With Storm Intensifying, Residents Urged to Stay Off Roads

(Photo by Michael Damm/Long Island Press)

Officials across Long Island Thursday morning urged residents to stay off the roads as the first major storm of 2017 intensified.

As of mid-morning, police in both Nassau and Suffolk counties recorded nearly 40 accidents plus countless other spinouts and calls to aid motorists.

The most serious incident occurred on the Long Island Expressway. Westbound lanes had to be shut down after a tractor trailer crashed near Exit 33, causing a multi-vehicle accident, officials said.

“Obviously we went from beach day to blizzard day here in the county,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges in October. “Certainly road conditions are a concern.”

Whiteout conditions had already caused multiple fender-benders, he said, adding that no one has been seriously hurt.

“If you don’t have to be on the roadway please don’t take to the roadway,” Mangano said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who issued a state of emergency for Suffolk, carried with him the same message as he addressed the public Thursday.

Bellone’s message urging residents to remain off roads was two-fold: avoid putting yourself in danger and keep roads clear for plow operators battling the elements. He noted that whipping winds combined with rapid snowfall makes it difficult for plow crews to clear roads, and that more drivers on the road only adds to an already difficult situation.

“Don’t make it more difficult for them to clear what is a major snow storm,” Bellone said. “We are out in full force on the roadways with every piece of equipment we’ve got.”

Officials in both counties said the storm was intensifying and would only get worse. With temperatures plunging to the teens in the evening, there’s concern that snow-covered roads will freeze.

Long Island is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. As much as 18 inches of snow is expected.

(Featured photo credit: Photo by Michael Damm/Long Island Press)

Long Island Blizzard: Up to 18 Inches of Snow Possible

Long Island blizzard

What a difference a day makes.

After a balmy, spring-like Wednesday, Long Islanders woke up Thursday to what is likely to be the biggest storm of the season.

Overnight, the National Weather Service said a blizzard warning was in effect for the entire Island—previously it was just Suffolk County—and upped its snowfall projections to a foot and a half. By daybreak, a sheet of snow was on the ground.

The blizzard warning is in effect until 6 p.m. The weather service warned that accumulation of up to 18 inches is possible and that whiteout conditions caused by drifting snow is likely. Such a scenario makes for dangerous driving conditions, the weather service said.

Rapid snowfall mingled with wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour means visibility of a quarter mile or less at times, forecasters said. Conditions deteriorated in Suffolk County so quick that County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency.

In other words: stay off the roads.

Forecasters said “rapid deterioration” would begin at daybreak and continue until about noon.

Aside from heavy snow, Long Islanders will have to contend with temperatures dipping into the 20s and evening temperatures in the teens, with wind chill values in the single digits.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone urged residents to remain home and allow plow operators to do their jobs. “Don’t make it more difficult for them to clear what is a major snow storm,” he said.

“We are out in full force on the roadways with every piece of equipment we’ve got,” Bellone added.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said 911 call volume was “slightly above average” and that police had already responded to 18 vehicle incidents.

“These roads are bad and they’re only going to get worse,” Sini said.

Nassau County police counted 19 accidents Thursday morning and several other spinouts and aided motorists.

The most significant incident was a tractor trailer crash involving multiple vehicles near Exit 33 of the Long Island Expressway that caused the shutdown of the westbound lanes, officials said. The cause of the crash was still unclear.

“If you don’t have to be on the roadway please don’t take to the roadway,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges in October. “Obviously it is treacherous conditions.”

The county executive noted that the state is monitoring conditions on the LIE, which has been shut down in the past during major snowstorms. Mangano said the county typically is against closing the LIE because traffic is then diverted to interior roadways that plow operators are treating.

For commuters determined to head to work, the Long Island Rail Road was operating nine less trains than usual due to derailed non-passenger train at Jamaica station on Wednesday. By mid-morning the railroad was reporting system-wide delays of up to 30 minutes.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the LIRR and other MTA systems would deploy plows and other snow-fighting equipment to tackle the storm.

The storm prompted school and municipal service cancellations across the Island.

Officials urged residents with health issues, especially heart problems, to refrain from shoveling or using snow blowers.

This powerful storm comes one day after a record high of 62 degrees was recorded in Islip, making for an unseasonably warm day.

“Obviously we went from beach to blizzard day,” Mangano joked.

Donors to Journalist Barrett Brown’s Defense Fund Sue DOJ, FBI

Barrett Brown
Barrett Brown is facing eight-plus years in prison after pleading guilty to three charges late last month. (Photo credit: Free Barrett Brown/Wikimedia Commons)

A federal complaint filed in California accuses the Department of Justice of trying to collect the names of anonymous donors to a legal defense fund for journalist Barrett Brown, who had been imprisoned for four years prior to his release in November.

The class-action suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California on Monday, claiming a United States Assistant Attorney and the FBI agent at the center of Brown’s 2012 arrest subpoenaed WePay, the host of a crowd-funded legal defense fund, for the identities of anonymous donors and the amounts they contributed.

California resident Kevin Gallagher, a computer systems administrator, launched the crowd-funding site—Free Barrett Brown—following Brown’s arrest out of concern that the antagonistic journalist was being prosecuted for political speech. Eventually, hundreds of people made anonymous donations to Brown’s legal defense fund, totaling more than $40,000.

“The subpoena claimed that the information it requested would be used at trial of the jailed journalist,” the suit states. “However, the identities of, and the mounts donated by, the journalist’s supporters are completely irrelevant to the charges levied against the journalist.”

Brown’s case never went as far as a jury trial, as he decided to plead guilty instead.

The legal filing adds that the subpoena was “part of a larger scheme…to unlawfully surveil the donors in violation of the First Amendment.”

Donations to Brown’s defense fund were occasionally marked with messages of support.

“I think it is imperative that everyone who cares about free speech, a free internet, or is horrified by prosecutorial overreach, donate to Barrett Brown’s legal defense,” read one such note, which was included in the suit.

“Learning that these records were sought and obtained was highly unsettling, and I felt that I had to do something about it,” Gallagher said in a statement. “If we don’t send a message to the government that it’s not okay to target private legal defense efforts, then they will continue to get away with these sort of things.”

Brown was originally investigated for sharing an already public hyperlink from one chat room to another. The link contained hacked information and stolen credit card information from a global intelligence firm, Stratfor. Brown was reporting on the Stratfor leak and the motivations of a host of the other private government security firms at the time of his arrest. His work, published in various mainstream sites like the Guardian, Huffington Post and Vanity Fair, as well as his own crowd-sourced site, Project PM, earned him a devoted following.

The hack was carried about by hacktivist Jerry Hammond and other members of hacking collective Anonymous. In 2013, Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the hack.

Brown was initially facing more than 100 years in prison before prosecutors inexplicably dropped various charges, including one related to his sharing of the hyperlink. He eventually pleaded guilty two years ago to Internet threats, accessory after the fact, and interfering with the execution of a search warrant.

In November, Brown was released with five months remaining on his 63-month sentence, and is living in a halfway house in Texas.

In a previous interview with the Press, Gallagher said he became intrigued with Brown’s work around 2010, and eventually met him at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York City two years later.

“I just felt that like his work was really important,” Gallagher said, adding that Brown’s dogged investigations into private intelligence firms shed much-needed light on an industry working in the shadows.

“I mean all the [Edward] Snowden leaks are about governmental state surveillance, people don’t discuss how it gets outsourced to private companies,” he added.

The FBI agent named in the complaint, Robert Smith, was instrumental in Brown’s arrest. He led the search of Brown’s mother’s home in 2012. The search deeply disturbed Brown, who later vented in a profanity-laced video rant uploaded to YouTube.

The portion of his outburst related to the threat charge as part of his guilty plea included claims from Brown that he was armed and would regard government agents as Mexican cartel assassins.

“Any armed officials of the U.S. government, particularly the FBI, will be regarded as potential [Los] Zeta assassin squads and as the FBI and DPD know…I’m armed and I come from a military family, that I was taught to shoot by a Vietnam vet and by my father, a master hunter of all things…I will shoot all of them and kill them if they come and do anything because they are engaged in a criminal conspiracy and I have reason to fear for my life, not just from the Zetas but from the U.S. government,” Brown said.

That the government initially charged Brown with sharing a public link disturbed privacy and journalism advocacy groups. The global press freedom group Reporters Without Borders in 2013 cited Brown’s case in its explanation for dropping the United States 14 spots in its annual report measuring press freedoms around the world.

Aside from living in a halfway house, Brown is mandated to participate in a drug and alcohol program and have his computer activity periodically monitored.

Feds: Arrest in Heroin Death of Kings Park Wrestling Star

The alleged drug dealer will be arraigned at US District Court in Central Islip on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors on Long Island unsealed a three-count indictment Wednesday charging a 23-year-old Ridge man with selling heroin to a former high school wrestling star from Kings Park who fatally overdosed last year.

The indictment charges Richard Jacobellis with distribution of a controlled substance and for causing the death of 20-year-old Nicholas Weber.

Jacobellis was arrested Wednesday. He was expected to be arraigned at U.S. District Court in Central Islip later in the day. His arrest was the culmination of a multi-agency investigation involving Suffolk County police and federal authorities.

Investigators alleged that Jacobellis had been selling heroin on the Island since 2012.

Last May Jacobellis drove to Kings Park, investigators said, and sold $100 worth of heroin to Weber. He died shortly after taking it.

Weber was a former Suffolk County wrestling champion in his weight class at Kings Park High School. He had attended Suffolk County Community College and was slated to study physics at Stony Brook University in the fall semester.

The investigation also revealed that Jacobellis allegedly sold heroin to a user who overdosed a year before, but that person was saved from dying when Suffolk County police officers administered an overdose-reversing drug.

Despite Weber’s death and the near-fatal overdose of another user, Jacobellis continued to sell heroin, prosecutors alleged.

Last month, Jacobellis was caught selling heroin to a confidential informant, according to authorities.

Long Island, like many regions across the country, has been battling an opioid scourge for years. Weber’s death was among 93 heroin-related fatalities in 2016.

“The heroin epidemic on Long Island has cut short far too many young lives, like Nicholas,” United States Attorney for the Eastern District Robert Capers said in a statement. “To those heroin dealers who flood our streets with this highly addictive narcotic, be forewarned: if you sell heroin, my office and our law enforcement partners will prosecute you.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini echoed Capers’ warning.

“As I’ve made clear on numerous occasions, we will stop at nothing to hold drug dealers accountable for their depraved indifference to human life,” Sini said in a statement.

LIRR Derailment at Jamaica Causes Morning Cancellations, Delays

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

A non-passenger train derailed at Jamaica station Wednesday morning setting off delays and cancellations that persisted through the rush hour commute.

Early Wednesday morning the LIRR alerted riders that service had temporarily been suspended through Jamaica. The delays affected all branches except for Port Washington, which does not travel through Jamaica.

Some trains were cancelled while others were delayed by more than an hour.

The railroad was still experiencing near system-wide delays of 10-15 minutes as the morning progressed but eventually returned to near full service.

The cause of the disruption was a non-passenger train that detached from the tracks. The railroad had no explanation for the cause of the derailment as of Wednesday afternoon.

The LIRR is cancelling eight evening rush-hour trains as two tracks at Jamaica remain out of service. Meanwhile, crews will continue efforts to remove the derailed train from the tracks.

“Customers who normally change trains at Jamaica are advised to listen for announcements and expect that transfers could take place on tracks that are different from normal,” the LIRR said in a statement.

According to the LIRR, the rear car of an eastbound non-passenger train came off the track as it was approaching the Jamaica platform at approximately 4 a.m. No crew members on board were injured, the railroad said. The incident is currently under investigation.

This is the third such derailment involving the LIRR in four months. In January, a westbound train failed to come to a complete stop as it entered Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, causing the train to partially come off the tracks. More than 100 people were injured and even more were left rattled. In October, an eastbound train collided with a work train, leaving 29 injured. No one died in either incident.

List of cancelled trains:

Babylon Branch

The 4:03 p.m. train from Penn Station due into Babylon at 5:05 p.m. has been canceled. The 4:12 p.m. train from Penn Station, due into Massapequa Park at 5:10 p.m., will stop at Woodside, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Jamaica, Rockville Centre, and all further stops to Babylon.

The 4:34 p.m. train from Penn Station due into Babylon at 5:39 p.m. has been canceled. The 4:37 p.m. train from Penn Station due Wantagh at 5:27 p.m. will stop at Rockville Centre, and all further stops to Babylon.

The 4:57 p.m. train from Penn Station due Wantagh at 5:42 p.m. has been canceled. The 5:03 p.m. train from Penn Station, due into Freeport at 5:46 p.m. will stop at Rockville Centre, Baldwin, Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore and Wantagh.

The 5:19 p.m. train from Penn Station due Wantagh at 6:06 p.m. has been canceled. The 5:24 p.m. train from Penn Station, due into Freeport at 6:10 p.m., will stop at Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Jamaica, Rockville Centre, and all further stops to Wantagh.

The 6:05 p.m. train from Penn Station due Wantagh at 6:51 p.m. has been canceled. The 6:10 p.m. train from Penn Station, due into Freeport at 6:54 p.m., will stop at Rockville Centre and all further stops to Wantagh.

The 6:33 p.m. train from Penn Station due into Babylon at 7:35 p.m. has been canceled. The 6:36 p.m. train from Penn Station due into Wantagh at 7:29 p.m., will stop at Jamaica, St. Albans, Rockville Centre, and all further stops to Babylon.

Oyster Bay Branch

The 6:00 p.m. train from Jamaica due Oyster Bay at 6:58 p.m., has been canceled. The 6:16 p.m. train from Penn Station, departing from Jamaica at 6:36 p.m., will operate normally, making all stops to Oyster Bay, arriving there at 7:30 p.m.

Port Jefferson Branch

The 6:30 p.m. train from Penn Station due into Huntington at 7:32 p.m. has been canceled. The 6:35 p.m. train from Penn Station due Hicksville at 7:22 p.m. will stop at Jamaica, New Hyde Park, and all further stops to Huntington.

Long Island Benefits Least Under Cuomo Tuition-Free Program

free tuition

Long Island would benefit the least under New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to offer free tuition at state-run universities, according to a statewide eligibility breakdown released by the governor’s office Tuesday.

While the Long Island region boasts the second-largest number of families with college-age students in the state, the governor’s ambitious tuition-free program would only help a little more than half (55 percent) of those old enough to attend college—20 percent less than the state average, due to higher household incomes. (Full breakdown below).

According to Cuomo’s office, Nassau and Suffolk counties represent about 11 percent of college-age students statewide, second only to New York City. However, 84-percent of the city’s college-age student would qualify.

The governor unveiled the proposal last month during an appearance with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who during the Democratic primary for president, called for free college nationwide. Sanders’ pitch was so popular among progressives and other Democrats that the eventual Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, jumped on board.

Under Cuomo’s proposal, households earning up to $125,000 would qualify for assistance. If approved by the state Legislature, the program would be phased in over three years, beginning this year, but with a lower ceiling of $100,000. The eligibility threshold would increase to $110,000 in 2018 and finally, $125,000 in 2019. Students who wish to take advantage of the program would be required to attend SUNY or CUNY institutions. The annual cost of SUNY tuition is $6,470. Cuomo’s plan would kick in after students exhaust funds from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

The eligibility numbers released by the governor’s office Tuesday would seem to lend credence to criticisms that the program would disproportionately affect Long Islanders.

“Having a universal statewide minimum threshold is blatantly unfair to Long Island families,” State Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) said in a statement last month after the proposal was introduced. Murray also criticized the idea as a “populist program” and asked for more specifics from the governor.

Cuomo has argued educational assistance is needed more than ever, citing rising costs of attending college, the importance of holding a degree, and crushing student loan debt.

“In New York, education was always the great equalizer, but today far too many young people have been deprived of the advanced degree they need to get ahead, compete in the global economy, and secure the jobs of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said Tuesday during an appearance in Buffalo.

“The Empire State is sending a message loud and clear that under the Excelsior Scholarship program students’ dreams of higher education will be realized no matter how much money is in their pocket or the neighborhood they come from,” he added. “We are at a time of transformation–and New York will be the first in the nation to enact free tuition for middle-class families and move our economy forward.”

The state estimates the program would cost $163 million per year once fully adopted. The state already spends about $1 billion annually on (TAP), which is capped at $5,165 per year.

Murray, in a statement to the Press on Tuesday, proposed the state further bolster the TAP program rather than get in the business of offering no-cost college.

“I have a number of concerns about the governor’s plan and strongly believe that instead of this gimmick of supposedly ‘free’ college, we could help more Long Island families and students by increasing the threshold for TAP eligibility,” he said, adding that the threshold has been stuck at $80,000 for 16 years and counting.

Statewide eligibility numbers provided by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

(Featured photo credit: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Related: Despite Fierce Opposition, Trump’s Pick Betsy DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary