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‘The Walking Dead’ Tiptoes Through the Walkers in Disappointing Mid-Season Finale

The Walking Dead
AMC's 'The Walking Dead' (Photo credit: AMC/Facebook)

By Lissa Harris

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Watching Alexandria get overrun by walkers in the mid-season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead last Sunday, I felt the same heartbreak as when they overran the farm in the season 2 finale.

I want these survivors to be able to stay somewhere for longer than a couple of months. How many times can we hear someone say, “We could really make a life here,” only to be proven wrong by the onslaught of walkers, cannibals, savages, etc.? As Enid says to Glenn, “This is how it happens, and it always happens.”

The entire episode gives us more than enough viewpoints of what I call the “precious life” vs. “kill to survive” debate that has been threaded throughout the season so far. Maybe too many.

Locked away in a basement room, the Alpha Wolf gang captive is like True Detective’s Rust Cohle. He believes that the survivors are all anomalies just waiting to be “set free.” In the same room Dr. Denise tells the Wolf, “You weren’t born this way, you changed. You can change.”

Then Carol and Morgan enter the basement. Carol threatens to kill the Alpha Wolf and Morgan, too, if he gets in her way. Morgan won’t let her, because “all life is precious” – even black, beady-eyed, yellow teeth, evidently evil life. The two fight it out, setting up Alpha Wolf’s escape with Dr. Denise held hostage at gun point. In a twist of fate, Carol seems to have become the liability she is always trying to remove from the group. And we’re still no closer to calling the debate’s winner.

Before she dies from a zombie bite, Deanna explains the right answer to why Rick saved her son, which I covered in last week’s blog. The right answer is not that Rick is a good guy, as I had thought, but because he is a part of the Alexandria family. Meh. It’s hard for me to empathize.

Knowing what Rick has done to protect his own family over the course of six seasons, I think the residents of Alexandria should have gotten down on their knees and begged Rick to lead them right from the start. I understand that they don’t know Rick like I do, but I’m the one whom the writers should be writing for. Deanna’s deathbed scene with Michonne was touching and, at the time, gave me hope that healing is possible even in the most heinous of circumstances.

Then we have some throw-away theories to contemplate. Tara, trapped in a garage with Eugene and Rosita, implies that the survivors have a debt to pay in order for them to deserve to live in a place like Alexandria. Rosita quickly—and correctly—calls this point of view bullshit. In an annoying sub-plot with Ron and Carl, they argue about whose dad is the worse killer, pitching their own analysis of their overall situation.  Much like Carl’s inability to grow into his father’s hat, the young actor Chandler Riggs has yet to grow into his acting chops. I laughed when Carl delivers this line to Ron, “You need to know something: your dad was an asshole.”

Maybe if the writers had focused more on creating drama that had the same intensity we’re used to seeing on TWD, and dispensed with giving every single character a point of view, then this episode would have been better. It was nowhere nearly as exciting as mid-season finales of seasons past.

Little did we know that Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in the opening soundtrack was foreshadowing this mid-season finale’s final scene, but it still wasn’t enough to take my breath away.

Remember last season’s gut-wrenching moment when Maggie drops to the ground at the sight of Daryl carrying Beth’s dead body? I felt horrible for days afterwards. Or when Rick shoots a turned Sophia, Carol’s 8-year-old daughter who the group had been searching for in season 2? These scenes were horrifying and dripping with drama.

Besides the lackluster drama, the show just keeps adding more plot holes we have to swallow: throngs of walkers who disappear or conveniently thin out, babies who never cry, CGI ants, kids who never act like kids—oh, wait, that last one remains to be seen, but I’ve made my point. The Walking Dead is a good show, but even a good show can have a bad season. I’m reminded of “Homicide: Life on the Street” and the last terrible season of this otherwise mind-blowingly great show.

Is this where TWD is headed? I don’t know yet, but the quality of the second half of season 6 may determine the show’s fate. We’ll know next February when it resumes.

How To Drill A Hole In Tile With Little Clean Up, By Alure Home Improvements

Alure Home Improvements
Alure Home Improvements Chief Operating Officer Doug Cornwell shows viewers how to properly drill a hole through tile with little clean up on a recent episode of Alure's "60-Second Fix"!
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

Drilling through tile is one thing, but doing it so you can properly clean up as you’re working is another.

Knowing the best way to tidy up as you drill will save you a whole lot of time and a whole lot of headaches.

Doug Cornwell, chief operating officer of Alure Home Improvements, shares his proven techniques to ensure that bathroom drilling projects don’t devolve into big messes in a recent installment of Alure Home Improvements’ “60 Second Fix: How To Drill A Hole In Tile With Little Clean Up,” so viewers can do the job right.

As Doug instructed in his “60 Second Fix: How To Drill Through Tile Without Cracking It,” there’s a right way and a wrong way to penetrate bathroom wall tile. You don’t want the drill bit to slip, because a mistake can never be fixed. In that case, you’d have to replace the tile. For that reason, Doug recommends using a pointed spade masonry bit.

But as the dust flies from the spinning drill, the last thing you want to do is let that cloud of debris wind up on the bathroom floor.

No, there has to be a better way.

Fortunately, there is. And the solution is so simple you’re probably going to ask yourself: Why didn’t I think of this before? Perhaps you have; if so, good for you. But for those who haven’t, here’s a tip you can all use to make the job’s cleanup go so much faster that you may have to stop yourself from seeing how many holes you can drill just for the fun of it.

In this example, Doug has made his mark on the tile. But that’s only the first step.

Here’s what you do next: Before you start drilling, tape a paper cup to the wall right below where you intend to drill.

“Take the cup and put a piece of tape on the inside,” says Doug.

Here, he uses black electrical tape because he knows it will stick to the tile, hold the cup in place and be easy to remove once he’s done drilling.

As he shows, he starts drilling slowly until he sees that the drill is biting into the surface.

“See the dust fly!” exclaims Doug.

“Once we start to go through, we can speed it up!” he says.

As the camera zooms in, Doug happily explains that “you can see the dust falling right into the cup!”

He won’t stop drilling until the penetration is completed. Once he’s through, he’s through.

“We’ve successfully drilled through the tile, and even more successfully,” says Doug, “we didn’t make a mess. We have it all in the cup!”

Click here to learn more about Alure Home Improvements

Thanks to Doug Cornwell and Alure Home Improvements, that simple little tip can leave you with no mess, no fuss, just a nice little hole in the tile, right where it belongs.

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events November 26 – December 2

Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts
Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts rock The Paramount in Huntington Nov. 29!

[Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts rock The Paramount in Huntington Nov. 29! Photo: Weiland’s Facebook page]

Run For Fun Turkey Trot
Montauk’s annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot is back for its 39th year. Start Thanksgiving off right with a three- or six-mile race through the picturesque beach town. (A run in the morning means you can indulge in extra calories at dinner.) Check-in is from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. but get there early—the first 300 participants receive a commemorative t-shirt. Village Green, Montauk. montaukchamber.com $10. 8 a.m. November 26.

Festival of Trees
Take in the spectacular array of designer-decorated trees, stroll through the gingerbread village, check off the folks on your holiday shopping list with presents from the vendor marketplace, decorate a cookie, and enjoy live music at the 26th annual Long Island Festival of Trees. All trees and gingerbread creations are for sale. Don’t miss this incredible event for a good cause—all proceeds go to the United Cerebral Palsy Association. Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City. cradleofaviation.org $10-$15. 10 a.m. November 27, 28 and 29.

Dance Gavin Dance 10-Year Anniversary Tour
Progressive, post-hardcore, experimental band Dance Gavin Dance brings their hard-hitting lyrics, unexpected vocal sounds and sick guitar riffs to Long Island. This year, the Sacramento, Calif., natives released their sixth studio album, Instant Gratification, showcasing their collective talent and willingness to push musical boundaries. Slaves, A Lot Like Birds, Dayshell and Strawberry Girls make this a must-see show. Revolution Bar & Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $20. 5 p.m. November 27.

Get The Led Out—The American Led Zeppelin
The closest you can get to the real thing, these dedicated musicians are committed to delivering the Earth-shattering songs of The Almighty Led Zeppelin [Video Above of “Immigrant Song”] as honestly and passionately as possible. Having garnered a national reputation as the “American Led Zeppelin” and its best tribute band, Get The Led Out focuses on Zep’s early years and plays some of the deeper cuts rarely heard in concert. Their acoustic versions of “Tangerine” and “Battle of Evermore” will leave you breathless. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $24.50-$50. 7 p.m. November 27.

Funk Flex and Lil Kim
America’s number-one radio personality and the Queen Bee herself on one stage? No, this is not too good to be true—these two hip-hop legends are joining forces for one incredible show. For more than a decade, two million listeners a week tune into Flex’s sizzling radio show on Hot 97, where he’s played more than one Lil Kim hit over the years. Actress, rapper, songwriter, record producer, and model, Kim has established herself as one of the world’s most accomplished female rappers. She knows exactly what her audience wants: classics from 1996’s double platinum Hard Core, plus newer tracks from her mix tapes Black Friday and Hard Core 2k14. Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $35. 10 p.m. November 27.

Dark Side Orchestra—Celebrating The Grateful Dead Experience
When those who knew the Grateful Dead [Video Above] best—band co-founders, former band members and sound engineers—say that the Dark Side Orchestra is an amazing representation of the original, you know you’re doing something right. DSO continues the Dead’s spirit by dipping into every incarnation of their 40-year career to cover original concerts in full. The result? Fans get to “see” a Dead show that happened before they were even born! Travel back in time and release your inner Deadhead at this one-of-a-kind show. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $39.50-$75. 8 p.m. November 28.

Nick DiPaolo
Veteran stand-up comedian and fixture of the legendary Comedy Central roasts, Nick DiPaolo knows exactly how to make you laugh. He built his fan base by calling it like he sees it. His audiences love his authenticity. His biting sarcasm has eaten through the air waves on radio shows like The Howard Stern Show, The Opie and Anthony Show and The Dennis Miller Show, as well as TV’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and Louie, featuring Louis C.K. Get ready to laugh! Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $40. 8 p.m. November 28.

David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown
Nothing says Christmas spirit like your favorite holiday songs, and no holiday playlist is complete without the jazz piano selections from the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer David Benoit brings the Peanuts gang to life in this tribute. His prominent Charlie Brown related projects reflect his passion for the music of original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi, cementing Benoit’s role as his musical heir. Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre. madisontheatreny.org $50-$95. 8 p.m. November 28.

Scott Weiland and The Wildabouts
The former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots [Video Above] and his new band, The Wildabouts, are coming to town. Expect all the hits that made STP a household name throughout the ’90s, as well as tunes from his time in supergroup Velvet Revolver. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $15-$50. 8 p.m. November 29.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour
The former Stray Cats front man and hometown rockabilly hero returns to Long Island with his 18-piece orchestra on their Christmas Rocks Extravaganza! tour. The concert will include Setzer’s legendary guitar magic on hits such as “Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut” and much more, as well as his re-imagined and acclaimed Holiday classics. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $29.50-$39.50. 7 p.m. November 29.

Lost and Recently Found Film Treasures—Lecture by Glenn Andreiev
Filmmaker and historian Glenn Andreiev offers a behind-the-scenes look at his upcoming documentary on “lost film,” the largely disregarded portion of film history that historians have worked tirelessly to resurrect from what remains and re-present to audiences for the first time in decades. Sky Room Café at Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $15. 7:30 p.m. November 30.

Toys For Tots Toy Drive
Children love toys. Toys entertain them. Toys unleash their imaginations. Toys keep the lil tots out of their parents’ hair. Unfortunately, some children go without these precious gifts on the holidays. Come donate some toys for the underprivileged kids out there and make this holiday season special, won’t you? Come share the holiday cheer. Come open up your heart and change a some kids’ lives. Fox Hollow, 7725 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury. thefoxhollow.com Free with unwrapped toy. 6:30 p.m. December 1.

David Glukh Duo
The Juilliard School graduate has been a member of Dallas Brass, a bandleader, composer and soloist, who has wowed audiences around the world. This musical genius will present an afternoon of Klezmer, Jazz and Classical music performed on his signature piccolo trumpet accompanied by piano. Wow! Landmark on Main St., 232 Main St., Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org Free. 2 p.m. December 2.

Emily St. John Mandel
This young Canadian novelist has been wowing the literary world and racking up prestigious award after award. Her fourth and latest novel, Station Eleven, is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic adventure through a world decimated by the effects of a deadly virus, and follows a Shakespearian actor troupe town to town around the Great Lakes region. This is a rare opportunity to see her up close and personal, speaking about her extraordinary word creations! Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Hofstra University, Hempstead. hofstra.edu Free. 7 p.m. December 2.

Thomas Dale
The comedian, not the former Nassau County police commissioner. (Thank goodness! Read about that tricky and elusive lil fella HERE!) Brokerage Comedy Club, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. brokerage.govs.com $22. 8 p.m. November 27, 7:30 p.m. November 28.

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Laughs For Eddie Dunn: Share smiles, laughs and love while helping Eddie and his family beat cancer at The Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore on Dec. 6!

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Eddie Dunn has a big heart. He loves his family and friends, loves playing pool, and loves making people smile. After his father passed away a few years ago, Eddie stepped up to the plate for his family, taking on not only his dad’s responsibilities looking over the well-being of his mother, three sisters and two grandchildren, but continuing to share love and joy to those in desperate need, donning his father’s colorful costume, hat and face paint as a clown alongside his mother, spreading laughter to children and the elderly alike. This must-attend fundraising event is furtherance of that tradition, as comedians take to the mic and tell jokes, now in Eddie’s honor. Eddie and his family need your help. At 40 years old, Eddie has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and this sinister disease has spread to his blood and bones. Eddie’s not a quitter, and will never give up the fight, or hope. Come down and share a laugh or three with this special, much loved man. Join Eddie, his family, and friends, in this extraordinary expression of life, love and laughs. Help fight this insidious disease, and help spread some light in the process. If you can’t make it, read more about Eddie, his plight, visit and contribute to Eddie Dunn’s Go Fund Me account: https://www.gofundme.com/Eddie-Dunn-s-story. Eddie, his family, and all his friends Thank You from the bottom of their hearts. The Brokerage, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. govs.com For tickets, call 516-798-2989 or 516-655-1424. $25 Donation. Doors open at 6 p.m. Showtime: 7:30 p.m. December 6.

–Compiled by Timothy Bolger, Desiree D’orio & Zachary B. Tirana III

What Was Revealed in the Latest Episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ Could Be a Real Shocker

By Lissa Harris

WARNING: SPOILERS DEAD AHEAD!!!

Glenn is alive. This big fat cat was let out of the bag in Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead. Glenn’s fate was one of the best cliff hangers this season, but Sunday night’s cliff hanger came in at a close second. Since this big reveal, the virtual world has imploded in an attempt to either laud or vilify Glenn’s escape under a dumpster after he used Nicholas’ body as an edible shield.

This was one of the show’s most dramatic moments but not one of its most important.

A few weeks ago I argued for the paramountcy of episode 4, “Here’s Not Here,” the relatively slow-paced back-story on how Morgan had acquired his “all life is precious” ideology.

The debate between “kill or be killed” and “all life is precious” has been the show’s meat and potatoes all along, so to speak, and as we head toward next week’s mid-season finale, the writers’ are gearing up to serve us the main course.

Last Sunday’s episode 7, “Heads Up,” gives us a variety of ways to look at this issue. Here’s how Morgan, Rick, Carol and Michonne discuss Morgan’s decision to let some members of the Wolves gang live after they attacked him. Rick argues with him: “Do you really think you can do that without getting blood on your hands?” Morgan’s painfully honest answer is: “I don’t know.”

There is a brief exchange between Sam, the son of Dr. Pete, the killer in the season 5 finale, and Carol, TWD’s resident Grinch whose heart is three sizes too small. Sam asks Carol, “If you kill people, do you turn into one of the monsters?”

But Carol misunderstands the questions and answers him the only way she possibly could. “The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing,” she explains.

In another scene, Rick and Tara save bone-head Spencer, who is trying to exit Alexandria via a zip line that eventually, inevitably, snaps. Deanna, former leader of Alexandria, asks Rick why he bothered to save Spencer instead of using him as a decoy to save the others. Rick explains that he saved Spencer because he is her son and he values Deanna’s friendship.

“Wrong answer,” Deanna tells him, implying that she thinks Rick saved Spencer because he’s really a good person who values human life.

Does this mean that when push comes to shove, Rick subscribes to Morgan’s philosophy that “all life is precious”?

I would say that the show’s writers lean toward Morgan’s side of the debate. Each scene described above would suggest it. To me, this is the episode’s big reveal. Oh sure, they have nine more episodes to play with our emotions and keep us flip-flopping on the ideological scale between survival of the fittest and respect for all living things.

But we know where our beloved characters are going to land. Even amid the terror and the fear that comes from their dire predicament, their humanity depends upon their ability to show compassion and trust toward their fellow human beings. They are prepared to accept the possibility that their good will may be taken advantage of, rather than allow their connection to each other to be overruled by dread and hatred. As The Walking Dead has shown us since the very first episode, their vulnerability is their greatest asset because it creates inexhaustible courage. And with limitless bravery, our heroes can face any obstacle, even a church tower collapsing on their wall.

Jon Snow Is Alive, Not Dead! HBO Game Of Thrones Season 6 Poster Is Proof!

Game Of Thrones Jon Snow Not Dead
HBO'S 'Game Of Thrones' Season 6 Poster Is Proof Jon Snow Is Not Dead!

By Zack Tirana

We knew it couldn’t be true.

We knew deep down in our hearts, in our bones, in our very souls, that when those scumbag “brothers” of The Night’s Watch mercilessly knifed him at the end of Season 5 (that first slice from that lil fella; how damn cold), it just couldn’t be.

We knew he’d rise again.

“Jon Snow can’t be dead. He just can’t!” some of you likely yelled [there was a lot of that going on over here in the Press offices, that’s for sure]. “There’s no way!”

“The Red Witch, she’ll bring him back, surely,” others reassured themselves. “She has magical powers. Stanis is nothing!! The true savior of the Seven Realms has got to be Jon fkn Snow!!”

“I’ve been staying up till dawn since the last episode, reading all the books—but only the chapters named after Jon Snow,” said another, who may or not have been me. “He’s a warg in the books! He’s a shape-shifter, too! He enters Ghost as soon as he falls asleep! There’s no way Jon Snow is dead! Noooooooooo!!!”

Such optimism was born of pure desperation, of course. Dread. Devastation, really. For a while there, things got a lil dark, have to admit. So much grief. So many rumors. Kit Harington telling talk show hosts Jon Snow was dead. Arya and the beautiful Dragon Mother doing the same. Oh, Daenerys!! Drogon, wake up! Your queen mother needs you!!

Game of Thrones Director David Nutter squashing President Obama’s hope, proclaiming that The Bastard of Winterfell was dead as a doorknob, too—or more precisely: “Jon Snow is deader than dead.”

That’s not what this new Season 6 poster depicts! Jon Snow is the only one in it! And he has blood splattering his face that wasn’t there in the final scene of Season 5!

Jon Snow cannot be dead! Jon Snow is alive! This poster is proof!!

There is hope. Long live Jon Snow.

Game Of Thrones Jon Snow Not Dead
HBO’S ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 6 Poster Is Proof Jon Snow Is Not Dead!

Alure Home Improvements Instructs How To Properly Drill A Hole Through Tile

Alure Home Improvements
Alure Home Improvements Chief Operating Officer Doug Cornwell instructs homeowners how to properly drill through tile on a recent episode of Alure's "60-Second Fix"!
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

Today, Doug Cornwell, chief operating officer of Alure Home Improvements, takes us into the bathroom in this video installment of Alure Home Improvements’ “60 Second Fix: How To Drill Through Tile Without Cracking It” so we can learn how to do it right without destroying the tile in the process.

Drilling through wallboard and wood is a breeze, but tile penetration presents a challenge. A slip of the drill bit can leave a chunk, a crack or gouge that can never be fixed. One false move, and the tile is ruined.

No, you want to do it the right way, and here’s how.

But perhaps you’re asking yourself, why would you want to drill a hole in your bathroom tile anyway? For a host of reasons. Say you want to install a towel rack by the shower stall or a toilet paper holder where it’s most convenient. Perhaps you want to put up a shelf for your reading matter or a flower pot. Whatever the reason, here’s how to learn to drill a hole in the tile without boring a hole in your head.

The first step is perhaps as important as actually getting the drill bit to bite into the tile. You must mark out the location as exactly as possible. Preparation is the key. You can always erase a pencil mark, but if you drill a hole in the wrong place, forget it. You’ll have to change your project to fit the hole, and sometimes overcoming that mistake could prove impossible.

“Make sure that your measurements are specific,” says Doug Cornwell, “because once you’re drilling in tile, it’s impossible to patch. It’s not like sheetrock.”

No, you can’t spackle, paste and paint your way out when it comes to drilling in tile.

“Once you put a hole in tile, you’re pretty much done,” says Doug. “You have to remove the tile if it’s in the wrong place.”

So be very careful and conscientious about how you mark it out.

Fortunately for the homeowner, most of these fixtures come with their own templates or guides, so you can lay them against the wall to help you designate the properly distanced holes for your drilling.

In this video Cornwell has the luxury of demonstrating the technique just for instructional purposes. But watch him and learn from the master. He takes his pencil, and with a quick gesture, his X literally marks the spot!

Next up, choose the ideal drill bit.

“I prefer this pointed spade masonry bit to a typical masonry bit,” he says, pointing to it with his finger. “It has a little point on it, which helps to keep the bit from traveling along the tile.” That’s the issue with drilling into the tile’s hard surface. If the drill doesn’t catch immediately, the momentum of the spinning bit could throw you off line.

The pointed drill bits will actually stay in one location.

And here’s another quick tip before you begin to drill. Before you insert the bit into the drill, line up the tip at the marked location and give the end a gentle tap or two with a hammer, just so it makes a good first impression.

Then put the bit in your drill and aim it at the intersection of the X. Then turn on your drill.

“We’re going to start slow,” he says. “You can actually hear it grind a little bit.”

That’s how you know it’s digging into the surface, he advises. Next you see the dust come out of the hole from the drilling.”

Once you see that, and you know the bit is on track, you can speed up the drilling.

“Push it until it goes all the way through,” he says.

Click here to learn more about Alure Home Improvements

The keys in this process are marking the exact location and using the preferred drill bit with the pointy tip so it won’t travel along the tile face. Then, start slowly to make sure the drill bit has penetrated the surface. Once you’re in, then you can speed up the drilling until you can push the drill completely through the tile.

See? That’s the way to do it! Thank you, once again, Alure Home Improvements!

As Heartland Shows in Suffolk, Dollars and Planning Sense Are Not in the Same Zone

Heartland Town Square
Artist's rendering of the proposed "Heartland Town Square" in Islip Town, which would include more than 9,100 housing units and more than 4 million square feet of office space and would affect many more residents than just those living within the town.

By Rich Murdocco

When the shovels finally break through the virgin dirt, the press cameras click, the blue ribbon parts and the courteous applause swells. It is in this very moment that land, once wooded and vibrant, becomes “improved.”

But the moment that the fate of the land is actually sealed is when an elected official, in the deciding majority vote, approves a change-of-zone for the parcel. At this time, the policymaker has heard all sides of the debate concerning the vote ad-nauseam – from the “concerned” residents who, most of the time, are looking to protect their homestead, and from the “concerned” developers, who, most of the time, are “concerned” about their project’s progress, and are looking to make good on their sizable investments.

Before that vote is cast, the policymakers should have been informed by the municipality’s planning department about the ins and outs of the proposal, answering critical questions such as these: “Can the impacted neighborhoods absorb the after-effects of growth? What are the assessed needs of the community and does this project meet them? How does the public benefit from this zoning change?”

Armed with a thoughtful assessment of the project’s merits, the policymaker would cast a vote that has the potential to change the course of history not only for the community, but the region as a whole.

Sadly, this scenario is seldom the case. In a system mired down by insider deals and local “politics as usual,” local officials usually vote on zoning changes less on sound planning principles, and more on flavor-of-the-day dealings. To make matters worse, developers often get cozy with advocacy groups, who lobby the local municipality to build projects that fit not only their vision of what a region should look like, but to suit their own interests as well.

In Suffolk County, the specter of Heartland looms over the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in the Town of Islip. The 495-acre site, in development limbo since the 1980s, is slowly moving towards “improvement” of its own. Thanks to an agreeable Islip Town Board and a Suffolk County Executive who, guided by his own development goals of tying the area together with Bus Rapid Transit and other various transit-oriented projects, the $4-billion Heartland project seems to have evolved in a few short years from being a nonstarter in the township to holding the future of not only Islip, but of Long Island as a whole.

We could go on, lest we forget the money.  In the end, development is always about the money.

In particular, $40,000, which is the ample sum developer Jerry Wolkoff gave to the Suffolk Democratic Committee on the eve of Nov. 3, Election Day. Aside from the timing, what makes this donation curious is why it happened in the first place. Current incumbent Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was not only ahead in the polls by a substantial margin, he had a political fiscal war chest that some villages would envy.

Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, told Newsday’s Rick Brand that his ties to Wolkolf go back to when he was a county legislator. “We’ve always had a good working relationship,” Schaffer said, “and I consider him a longtime friend and supporter.”

Is Wolkoff trying to leverage his ample resources  to oust the current GOP-led town government? Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Bellone’s foe in the 2011 County Executive race, seems to have mended fences and built bridges with her former political foe since she took office in Islip Town hall earlier this year. With the Town of Brookhaven she’s forged a widely celebrated “regional planning alliance” over the longtime-coming Ronkonkoma Hub Project.

This alliance, along with Bellone’s deliberate attempts to cross the partisan line and link up with the GOP in Islip and Brookhaven, speaks to why Wolkoff’s money may be better spent elsewhere. Simply put, Wolkoff may not see the return on investment he was hoping for.

Perhaps Wolkoff is looking beyond short-term politics to remind the current regime in Hauppauge that he is still here, and still waiting for his mega-project proposal with its 9,100 apartments, 1 million square feet of retail and 3 million square feet of office space, to be approved by lawmakers. If the approval comes from the GOP or Democrats, it doesn’t matter to him—he just wants that change of zoning.

In an ideal world, development approvals should come after a recommendation in a comprehensive, science-backed study and a measured assessment of an area’s needs. Instead, the process has been subverted by those who have the biggest checkbook. Heartland should be built – but only if its expansion is phased in to accommodate changing market dynamics, and scaled down substantively so it doesn’t overburden the area’s inadequate infrastructure.

One can bet that residents in the areas Heartland will impact definitely have more than 40,000 reasons why the project isn’t right for Long Island. Unfortunately, none of that matters, because they can’t fill a political coffer like $40,000 can.

Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events November 19 – 25

Jennifer Nettles
Country music songstress Jennifer Nettles serenades NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Nov. 22!

Oh Canada! Manitoba Hal and Shawna Caspi
From the moment he plucks his ukulele and she strums her guitar, powerful and engaging melodies and warm vocals riff through the air and land in the ears of an ever-growing fanbase. Sky Room Café at Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $15. 7:30 p.m. November 19.

Miracle on 34th Street
Possibly delusional, a white-bearded gentleman claiming to be the real Santa Claus brings about a genuine “Miracle on 34th Street,” spreading a wave of love throughout New York City, and convincing a divorced, cynical single mother, her somber daughter, and the entire state of New York that Santa Claus is no myth. Based on the classic movie by the same name and written by Meredith Willson, of The Music Man fame, this joyous, heart-warming musical is pure family entertainment and the perfect holiday treat. John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main Street, Northport. engemantheater.com $69-$74. November 19-January 3.

Holiday Lights Spectacular at Jones Beach
This brilliantly illuminating 2.5-mile display returns for the second year after a seven-year absence. It will feature new themed displays throughout the park as well as returning favorites including the “12 Days of Christmas” and “Santa’s Beach Party.” The park will also feature an expanded Holiday Village, including a brand new ice skating rink as well as returning favorites, such as pictures with Santa, Holiday Hay Maze, cheerful holiday music and movies, and plenty of refreshments. Jones Beach State Park, 1000 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh. jonesbeach.com $20 per car. Dusk. Opens November 20.

Claudia Schmidt
Schmidt’s performance interweaves anecdotes, original compositions and very personalized versions of the work of others, giving her audience a unique look at the world from someone who reveals what she sees with clarity, humor and a sense of wonder. Our Times Coffeehouse, 38 Old Country Rd., Garden City. ourtimescoffeehouse.org $15. 8 p.m. November 20.

Tony Bennett
For more than 60 years this American legend has been showered with appreciation by the likes of Bob Hope, Bill Clinton, Lady Gaga and countless others across the globe. This humanitarian artist with a pitch-perfect voice still evokes well-deserved astonishment and praise from audiences everywhere. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $76.50. 8 p.m. November 20, 21.

The Producers
The live performance of this hysterical musical is not to be missed. The story follows two show-biz schemers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, who concoct a ridiculous plot to make millions on Broadway by promoting a whopping failure, a musical about Hitler. Who’d want to see that clunker? But the joke’s on them. Staller Center for the Arts, Stony Brook University, 100 Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook. stallercenter.com $52. 8 p.m. November 21.

Lucy Kaplansky & Richard Shindell
Innovative, original, and spiritual, these legendary performers combine their eclectic love songs to create haunting melodies of adulterous romance and other tantalizing topics. Landmark on Main St., 232 Main St., Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org $42-$67. 8 p.m. November 21.

Whitford/St. Holmes
With Aerosmith and Ted Nugnet’s record-selling fame behind them, these two joined their guitars for one epic tour. Expect incendiary guitar work and lots and lots of mind-bending shreddin! Revolution Bar & Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $30-$75. 7:30 p.m. November 21.

Monroe Martin
He twisted his memories as an orphan into comedic brilliance that propelled his career in NYC. Now, the breakout artist is recognized in such venues as Adam Devin’s House Party to Gotham Live on Comedy Central. He’s sure to leave you laughing. Brokerage Comedy Club, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. brokerage.govs.com $17. 8 p.m. November 20, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. November 21.

Frank Caliendo
Whether it’s his insane antics on MADTV, his sideline snipes and belly busters as Fox NFL Sunday‘s chief prognosticator, or his absolutely knee-slapping, oh-my-God-my-britches-hurt-too-much-from-side-splitting stand-up comedy, this funnyman dishes out the laughter, in over-sized portions. His impressions? Can you say: “Thank you, sir, may we have another?” Of course you will! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $30-$75. 7:30 p.m. November 21.

Jadakiss
The music world can barely contain itself as this rap great’s fourth solo album, Top 5 Dead or Alive, is set to drop November 20th after five years in the making. The track list reads like a who’s who of hip hop, featuring appearances by Puff Daddy, Jeezy, Pharrell, Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and more. Always the entertainer, Jadakiss is sure to deliver old favorites like “Knock Yourself Out” and “We Gonna Make It” as he absolutely owns the stage! The Emporium, 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue. theemporiumny.com $15-$50. 10 p.m. November 21.

Ronnie Spector
One of the great voices of the ’60s–known for her work with legendary music producer Phil Spector (her ex) and her group The Ronettes–she’s carved out an illustrious solo career ever since. Her pipes should be in The Smithsonian someday. Ronnie Spector’s voice and style have influenced generations of artists. She’ll be singing her classics, including “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.” Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $47.50-$65. 8 p.m. November 21.

Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling
The Joke Man’s rapid-fire jokes are legendary. Whether you know him from his 18 years at the Howard Stern Show, his 17 years as the Penthouse joke page writer or his countless TV and film appearances, chances are you’ve heard one of his sharp one-liners. If you come up with a joke that Jackie can’t guess the punchline for, you could win a tee shirt during his classic “Stump the Joke Man” finale. Will he do his version of the notorious “Aristocrats” joke? Fingers crossed. You know the name, you’ve heard him for years on the radio and elsewhere, now see the funny man in person. Uncontrollably laughter, guaranteed! YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org $25-$30. 8 p.m. November 21.

Shadmehr Aghili
The “King of Persian Pop” started out as a child prodigy on piano, violin and guitar in Iran before becoming an actor and movie soundtrack composer. His 1999 album Dehati (“the villager”), was so revolutionary with its pop rhythms and rock ‘n roll sound that Iran banned it. When Iran banned the man himself, forbidding him to work as a singer, musician or to appear on TV, Aghili moved to Canada to continue his recording career. Powerful and mesmerizing, Aghili’s performance will move and inspire you. The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave., Westbury. thespaceatwestbury.com $40-$125. 8 p.m. November 21.

The Flying Dutchman
The world-renowned Zurich Opera House brings Richard Wagner’s timeless opera to Long Island. Based on 18th century folklore, The Flying Dutchman tells the moving story of a ghostly ship captain doomed to wander the seas forever in search of true love. Baritone Bryn Terfel shines in the company’s contemporary spin on the classic romantic ghost story of doom, gloom and stormy seas. Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center, 1 South Ave., Garden City. aupac.adelphi.edu $20. 2 p.m. November 22.

Jennifer Nettles
This country singer/songwriter/musician was born to be onstage. Former lead singer for Sugarland, Soul Miner’s Daughter and the Jennifer Nettles Band, her solo career has taken her musicality and songwriting to new heights. Her 2009 ballad “Stay” won two Grammys. Her lastest album That Girl is a poignant, soul-searching rediscovery of herself. This will be a show to remember, as Nettles performs songs from throughout her 25-year career. With Brandy Clark and Ryan Kinder. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $59.50. 7 p.m. November 22.

The I Love Chocolate Fest
Santa Claus, wine tasting, countless choco-creations so tantalizing they will send you to the moon, and a chance to step back in time to the Colonial era and set your imagination free!? Are you serious!? Yes!! This mouth-watering, retro-mondo extravaganza of all that is chocolate, all that is Christmas-y, and all that is blessed, comes just in time for the holiday season and is bound to leave you and your loved ones enjoying not only a chocolate high, but leaving several pounds larger! There will be more than 30 chocolate exhibitors providing too many choco-madness delights to list here, as well as gallons upon gallons of fresh vino from local vineyards, crafts, free samples, and that rare, precious opportunity to celebrate an 1863 Thanksgiving with live fiddle music, children’s games, and mind-altering demos! Costumed interpreters from the 1800s will bring this enchanting era to life! Yes, Yes, and Yes!! Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Rd., Old Bethpage. lovechocolatefest.com $7-$10. 10 a.m. November 22.

Machine Head
With more than 3 million records under their belt, eight albums and countless fans across the globe, these Oakland, Calif.-based metal demigods will be taking The Mountler by storm, shredding through track after track in support of their latest drop, 2014’s Bloodstone & Diamonds, and plenty more hellfire gems from their expansive career! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $20-$40. 8 p.m. November 24.

Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
The former singer, pianist and main songwriter for Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin is touring in support of his latest, last year’s self-titled release. Expect new tunes as well as old fan favorites, with outstanding performances from co-headliner New Politics and special guests The Griswolds & Lolo! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $35-$65. 6:35 p.m. November 25.

Zebra
Long Island’s own legendary saviors and purveyors of rock (via Louisiana), The Mighty Zebra will be shredding through nearly 40 years of hard rock and metal fueled by the superhuman guitar virtuosity of the beloved Randy Jackson. Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 East Main St., Patchogue. patchoguetheatre.org $10-$75. 8 p.m. November 25.

Funk Filharmonik
Groovy harmonies, melodious piano and guitars, a rhythm section to die for and a horn section that simply flat-out rocks, these funksters will get the audience a-movin’ and a-bumpin’ and a-shakin’ long into the night and forever sear the memory of a truly uplifting, kick-ass, hell-yeah celebration into your neuro-synapses! Wow! Not to be missed! Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre. madisontheatreny.org $30-$40. 8 p.m. November 25.

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Laughs For Eddie Dunn: Share smiles, laughs and love while helping Eddie and his family beat cancer at The Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore on Dec. 6!

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Eddie Dunn has a big heart. He loves his family and friends, loves playing pool, and loves making people smile. After his father passed away a few years ago, Eddie stepped up to the plate for his family, taking on not only his dad’s responsibilities looking over the well-being of his mother, three sisters and two grandchildren, but continuing to share love and joy to those in desperate need, donning his father’s colorful costume, hat and face paint as a clown alongside his mother, spreading laughter to children and the elderly alike. This must-attend fundraising event is furtherance of that tradition, as comedians take to the mic and tell jokes, now, in Eddie’s honor. Eddie and his family need your help. At 40 years old, Eddie has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and this sinister disease has spread to his blood and bones. Eddie’s not a quitter, and will never give up the fight, or hope. Come down and share a laugh or three with this special, much loved man. Join Eddie, his family, and friends, in this extraordinary expression of life, love and laughs. Help fight this insidious disease, and help spread some light in the process. If you can’t make it, read more about Eddie, his plight, visit and contribute to Eddie Dunn’s Go Fund Me account: https://www.gofundme.com/Eddie-Dunn-s-story. Eddie, his family, and all his friends Thank You from the bottom of their hearts. The Brokerage, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. govs.com For tickets, call 516-798-2989 or 516-655-1424. $25 Donation. Doors open at 6 p.m. Showtime: 7:30 p.m. December 6.

Compiled by Timothy Bolger, Spencer Rumsey, Desiree D’orio & Zachary B. Tirana III

No Syrian Refugee ‘Tent City’ Coming To Long Island, Insists Local Aid Group

Syrian refugee children in a Lebanese school classroom. (Photo credit: Russell Watkins/ UK Department for International Development)

By Rashed Mian and Christopher Twarowski

A Catholic nonprofit that helps war refugees, sex trafficking victims, and the oppressed resettle on Long Island says there are currently no plans to bring Syrian refugees to the region.

Not only are there no plans to bring Syrian refugees to LI, but there are currently zero applications for resettlement in Nassau and Suffolk counties, says Umberto Mignardi, a spokesperson for the nonprofit Catholic Charities, a ministry of the Diocese of Rockville Centre that provides basic care to immigrants, the poor, and other destitute individuals.

His emphatic response comes amid growing trepidation among local residents, fueled by emails warning friends about a supposed “tent city” being constructed in Amityville to aid those fleeing the war-torn country, Mignardi tells the Press.

Since the coordinated terror attacks in Paris that killed 129 and injured more than 300 people across the City of Lights last Friday, Catholic Charities, a national agency, has been flooded with phone calls from residents and elected officials concerned about Syrian refugees coming to Long Island.

Europe has been besieged by an unprecedented number of refugees and migrants attempting to escape conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, with hundreds of thousands applying for asylum or embarking on perilous and often fatal treks across land and sea to various countries’ borders, resulting in a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. The Obama administration announced earlier this year that it would welcome up to 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, a tiny fraction of the more than 12 million displaced and estimated 4 million refugees who’ve fled the four-year civil war and related atrocities there committed by the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including mass killings, executions, beheadings, bombings, torture, abductions, mutilations, massacres, crucifixions, slavery and systemic rape. A June 2015 report by the United Nations’ refugee agency, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, puts the number of people displaced by war and persecution worldwide at nearly 60 million—the most since World War II.

Half of those displaced are children.

In the wake of Friday’s attacks, more than two dozen governors across the country and countless lawmakers have come out publicly against the White House’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees. One of the most vocal opponents has been Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who penned separate letters to President Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) Tuesday expressing “serious concerns” about how federal officials plan to vet these refugees before they settle here.

Others outspoken opponents include Republican presidential hopefuls New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—who told conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt on Monday that he wouldn’t even admit “orphans under 5″—and Donald Trump, who warned on Twitter Tuesday that “refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are—some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?”

(For the record, King told MSNBC he’d allow young orphans into the country, reports CNN.)

Christie’s counterpart in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, blasted Republicans as playing politics amid the presidential campaign season.

“This is an election season, so the silly season has started and the governors can say, ‘I will refuse to let the refugees in,’” Cuomo said Tuesday. “How? How? Where does it say in the state constitution you can refuse a person placed by the federal government? What are you going to [do?] Have your militia fight the federal government at the borders of your state? It’s a pure political statement.”

“We have to protect Americans and not lose our soul as America in the process. Right?” he added. “The day America says, ‘Close the gates, build the wall,’ then I say take down the Statue of Liberty because you’ve gone to a different place.”

On suburban Long Island, which consistently ranks among the top of “Most Segregated” lists in the country and where affordable housing for its own residents has remained a charged issue for decades—with even the hint of such a project drawing fervent reactions—the prospect of Syrian refugees in Nassau and Suffolk has incited fierce, impassioned rhetoric, with many taking to social media to vent.

“Save the puppies!!! Send the refugees home,” spewed a man on News 12 Long Island’s Facebook page beneath a story about more than 100 puppies recently arriving at Port Washington’s North Shore Animal League for adoption.

“Soooo how long before the Syrian ‘refugees’ can move into wyndanch rising complex?” snickers another beneath a breaking news piece about Russia’s disclosure it was a terrorist act that brought down a passenger plane over Egypt last month, killing 224 people—Wyandanch Rising being the Town of Babylon’s long-awaited $500 million public/private redevelopment and revitalization project for the primarily minority hamlet.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, it’s been Catholic Charities that’s had to field calls—and debunk hysterics—about the rumored refugee encampment in Amityville.

“We’ve been getting calls all day about a ‘tent city’ going up in Amityville,” says Mignardi, adding: “I keep telling people we have zero applicants in Nassau and Suffolk county.”

Catholic Charities’ two offices on LI—Amityville and Hicksville—received about 100 phone calls Monday and Tuesday from people worried about refugees, he says. Some have been from lawmakers and elected officials who themselves inquired about the tent city rumors; others ask about the agency’s security protocols.

Catholic Charities’ mission is to provide clients with essential care, not scrutinize their background, explains Mignardi, adding that the responsibility to screen refugees falls on the federal government.

“We’re not the State Department,” he continues, “we don’t interview them.”

Although there are no applications for Syrian refugees to come to LI, Catholic Charities has been told by the feds that, if refugees are resettled here in the future, it can expect no more than 15 families.

Mignardi says the refugee resettlement process is rigorous, echoing sentiments from various relief agencies assisting refugees. Anyone coming to the United States would go through several layers of security, including more than a dozen background checks.

“You have to have interviews at the embassy of your origin,” he explains. “You have to have a family here sponsor you who ultimately is responsible for you, so that you’re not coming here and you’re homeless…it’s a difficult thing to establish.”

The entire process could take anywhere from 18 to 24 months, he continues.

Syrian refugee children in a Lebanese school classroom. (Photo credit: Russell Watkins/ UK Department for International Development)
Syrian refugee children in a Lebanese school classroom. (Photo credit: Russell Watkins/ UK Department for International Development)

If the federal government does decide to place any refugees on Long Island, the mostly likely scenario is that they wouldn’t get here until 2017, adds Mignardi. According to the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center, there have been 36 Afghanis, Iraqis and Pakistanis who’ve resettled on Long Island since 2010. Zero Syrians.

But the backlash against refugees—Syrians, especially—has erupted on both sides of the Atlantic since the Paris attacks, fueled by reports that one of the gunmen was carrying a Syrian passport and entered Greece within a deluge of other refugees. In recent days, the authenticity of the passport has been scrutinized, and Agence France-Presse reports it may have belonged to a deceased Syrian soldier.

Though U.S. and European lawmakers have been raising objections to refugee resettlement plans for months out of concern that ISIS could use the humanitarian crisis as a cover to infiltrate and carry out an attack, it’s reached a fevered pitch in the aftermath of the bloodbath in France.

King, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism, wrote to Obama Tuesday, requesting he “immediately halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees into the United States.”

“I have serious concerns with recent statements you and officials in your Administration have made regarding security vetting for the Syrian refugee population,” he warned, asserting that until a “top to bottom” review of the current vetting process is complete, the White House must suspend acceptance of refugees.

In his letter to Ryan, King threw his support behind the speaker’s plan to establish a task force to address “security threats inherent within this refugee population.”

“While I do not support current resettlement efforts for Syrian refugees in the U.S., I do want to voice my support for overseas activities to provide humanitarian aid for these migrants,” King told his fellow Republican.

The United States, a country founded by immigrant colonists, has a long history of accepting refugees—taking in nearly 70,000 annually, according to the U.S. Office of Refuge Resettlement, with more than 4,000 resettling in New York State. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the United States has resettled 784,000 refugees, according to the independent nonprofit Migration Policy Institute.

The organization found that only three of those refugees—less than half a percent—“have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”

MPI stresses that the resettlement process is so arduous, it’s unlikely a terrorist would hide among refugees to enter the United States.

“The most common arguments against resettling more Syrian refugees, made by some Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress, is that the resettlement program could be a path for infiltration into the United States by ISIS or other terrorists,” states MPI. “But the refugee resettlement program is the least likely avenue for a terrorist to choose. Refugees who are selected for resettlement to the United States go through a painstaking, many-layered review before they are accepted. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and national intelligence agencies independently check refugees’ biometric data against security databases. The whole process typically takes 18 to 24 months, with high hurdles for security clearance.”

In France, President Francois Hollande on Wednesday pledged to welcome in 30,000 Syrian refugees, just days after the country was attacked.

“France will remain a country of freedom,” he said, as French authorities continued to hunt Wednesday for the alleged mastermind and other accomplices—with a raid in northern France that killed fugitive ISIS commando Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

New York-based International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian group tasked with resettling refugees, was forceful in its rebuke of governors who want to close their states’ borders to refugees.

“Refugees are the most security vetted population who come to the United States,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Defense.”

“Banning Syrian refugees will not make America safer; it will make refugees more desperate. Syrian refugees are fleeing violence—including by ISIS—and are seeking safety for themselves and for their families,” continues the statement. “We deplore the insinuation in the recent banning orders against Syrian refugees that either they are terrorists, or that it is impossible to separate them from those seeking to come here to commit terrorism.”

That plea was reiterated by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who, standing Tuesday among the thousands of daily refugees entering Presevo, Serbia, deemed it “absolute nonsense” to blame them for terror attacks, stressing they were instead its “first victims.”

“It is not the refugee outflows that cause terrorism. It is terrorism, tyranny and war that create refugees,” he stressed.

(Featured Photo Credit: Russell Watkins/ UK Department for International Development)

Fans Don Costumes for Long Island ‘Doctor Who’ Convention (Photos)

Long Island Doctor Who Convention

By Joe Nuzzo

The Long Island Doctor Who convention was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge this past weekend. The convention moved to the Hyatt after it outgrew its former home at the Clarion Hotel in Ronkonkoma.

Fans from 45 different states and countries as far as Australia came to Long Island to celebrate their fandom and meet celebrities from the BBC television series. The convention sold out all of its convention rate rooms at the Hyatt and three overflow hotels nearby.

“Hotel cons are something we really enjoy,” Andre Tessier, the LI Who media manager told the Press. “A lot of coming to an event like this is socializing. As the panels wind down at night fans can get together at the bar, share a few drinks, and catch up.”

The success of LI Who outlines the need for a dedicated hotel and convention center here on Long Island, organizers said. Although the new home for this convention, like Doctor Who’s time travel machine the TARDIS, is “bigger on the inside,” the convention still needed the use of an outdoor heated tent for some events.

LI Doctor Who Convention
Long Island Doctor Who Convention (Photo credit: Joe Nuzzo)

“Had I run this convention in 49-and-a-half other states in the union (including upstate NY) I’d have a perfect place to do it” show runner Ken Deep told the Press, “on Long Island which is a major tourist destination, the one thing we don’t have is a proper convention center.”

Over the past year, Long Island has hosted several other notable sci-fi conventions: The LI Geek convention, which was held at MacArthur Airport, and Eternal Con, which was held at The Cradle of Aviation Museum.

“Although these are wonderful places for the atmosphere,” Deep said, “they are not designed for conventions.”

When asked if Deep felt that Long Island misses out on conventions due to a lack of a proper space, he told the Press: “I have no doubt, because I’ve had a lot of challenges trying to make this happen.”

LI Doctor Who Convention
LI Doctor Who Convention (Photo credit: Joe Nuzzo)

Despite these challenges, the LI Who convention was filled with happy fans dressed up in colorful costumes. Celebrities were busy posing for pictures and signing autographs. Vendors were busy selling merchandise and panels ran passed midnight on Saturday.

“When someone travels 24 hours and halfway around the world to be at your convention,” Deep said, “you want to give them a great experience. No pressure!”

From the looks of the happy faces on convention attendees it seems that Deep succeeded.

LI Who 4 is scheduled for Nov. 11 to Nov. 13, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge. Tickets for LI Who 4 go on sale Monday Nov. 23.

LI Doctor Who Convention
LI Doctor Who Convention (Photo credit: Joe Nuzzo)