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NY Shark Fin Bill Signed Into Law

New Yorkers who want to buy or sell shark fins are out of luck.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Friday into law that bans the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins. Violators can face up to 15 days in jail and $100 fine for each fish.

“Every year, an estimated 73 million sharks are killed to supply the growing global demand for their fins,” Cuomo said. “Not only is the process inhumane, but it also affects the natural balance of the oceanic ecosystem. With this new law, New York will be doing its part to help preserve this important species and maintain a stable environment for them.”

New York is not the first state to make this move.  Seven states have already banned this trade, including California, Illinois, Oregon and Washington.

This state has one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia. A major reason for this is the demand for shark fin soup, an expensive Chinese delicacy.

To provide a balance between the market for this product and the protection of sharks, the sale of shark fins of two species of dogfish are allowed. Currently 70 commercial fishers are licensed to take dogfish, with daily catch limits of 3,000 pounds per license.

Many animal protection groups voiced their approval of the governor’s decision to sign this bill, including the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

“Shark finning is an extremely cruel and inhumane practice driven by the shark fin trade in which fishermen catch sharks, cut off their fins and throw the still-living animals back into the water, where they die slow and horrifically painful deaths,” said Elizabeth Hogan, campaign manager for World Society for the Protection of Animals. “WSPA is happy to see New York state take this step to protect sharks from this needless cruelty, and plan to help other states follow their lead.”

The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

Long Beach Boardwalk Reopens Saturday

The first stretch of the new Long beach boardwalk is reopening Saturday, July 27, 2013.
The first stretch of the new Long beach boardwalk is reopening Saturday, July 27, 2013.

The first four-block stretch of the new Long Beach boardwalk is reopened Saturday morning, just shy of the nine-month anniversary of when the old boardwalk was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

Long Beach city officials made the long-awaited announcement Friday that the boardwalk from Magnolia to Long Beach boulevards will be open while construction continues on the rest of the 2.2-mile structure that is slated to be completed by November.

“If there were ever any doubts that Long Beach and the South Shore are back, today those doubts have been put to rest,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who joined city officials for the news conference.  “We’re like a boxer that’s been knocked down, but Long Beach has gotten up and delivered the knock out punch against Sandy.”

He noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay for nearly all the costs of rebuilding the boardwalk.

The replacement boardwalk is being constructed out of stronger materials including concrete and Brazilian hardwoods. Schumer said that boardwalks in New Jersey that withstood Sandy were made out of these same materials.

City Council President Scott Mandel said that the material is designed to last 30 to 40 years.

“The boardwalk you are standing on is a result of the entire community’s output,” he said.

Mandel mentioned that certain aspects of the old boardwalk will be kept to maintain its nostalgic feel. For instance, the old benches will be back after they are refurbished. Although there is new LED lighting, the lights will still have the same retro look.

Mandel added that there will now be public WiFi along the boardwalk and the beach.

The city’s iconic boardwalk has been drawing visitors eager for its return for months, but their wait is almost over.

“We came back to visit because we wanted to see Long Beach and get an update on the reconstruction since it is right in our backyard,” said Tracy Seager-Huber, a Lynbrook resident. “I knew it would be rebuilt because of the spirit here.”

Blake Shelton Turns Jones Beach Into Wild West

Blake Shelton played Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on Sunday, July 21, 2013.
Blake Shelton played Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on Sunday, July 21, 2013.

Jones Beach Theater looked more like the Wild West this weekend when cowboy-boot clad fans of country star Blake Shelton came out for the first leg of his “Ten Times Crazier” tour.

Shelton opened with the fun and upbeat number “It’s All About Tonight” before playing a medley of songs from early in his career. He put on a cowboy hat to “better connect with the old days” to sing “Some Beach,” a single from his 2004 album, “Blake Shelton’s Bar & Grill.”

The Oklahoma native joked with his fans, who call themselves “BSers,” that his manager told him to stray from talk of “redneck” things such hunting for his New York performance, an anecdote that set up his rebellious song, “Kiss My Country Ass.”

Recalling how R&B star Usher, a fellow judge alongside Shelton on NBC’s The Voice, covered one of his songs for a benefit concert in Oklahoma, Shelton jokingly tried to cover Usher’s “Yeah”  before segueing into “Hillbilly Bone.”

Songs he sang ranged from playful, rustic numbers like “The More I Drink” to sweeter, more intimate songs like “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” and “Honey Bee.”  He also played a few songs from his recently released album, “Based on a True Story.”

Two songs he performed he regards as the most important in his life, including “Over You,” a song that he usually sings with his wife, county singer Miranda Lambert, and his 2001 breakout single, “Austin.”

The most memorable moment of the night was his passionate rendition of Michael Bublé’s “Home,” during which he asked the audience to sing along and sway their phones so that he could get a taste of what it’s like to be Taylor Swift.

The artist ended the night by getting the crowd dancing with his country-style version of “Footloose” before concluding with the powerful, “God Gave Me You.”

Canon U.S.A. Celebrates Grand Opening of New Melville HQ

The new Canon U.S.A. headquarters in Melville officially celebrated its grand opening on Friday, July 19, 2013.
The new Canon U.S.A. headquarters in Melville officially celebrated its grand opening on Friday, July 19, 2013 (Jon Sasala/Long Island Press).

Officials gathered Friday to celebrate the grand opening of Canon U.S.A.’s innovative new headquarters at One Canon Park in Melville, a project that helps keep more than 1,000 jobs on Long Island and boosts the local economy.

The 700,000 square-foot headquarters serves North and South America as it joins London and Tokyo as one of the three worldwide headquarters. The ceremony followed three years of construction.

“It has been more than 20 years and today my dream has come true,” said Fujio Mitarai, Chairman & Executive Officer, Canon Inc., who has been part of the company since 1961. “Now that my dream has came true, my next dream is for Canon USA to grow as a headquarters.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone and Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone were among the elected officials who joined in the ceremony.

Canon Booms in Suffolk: A Look Inside the New Canon U.S.A. Headquarters

“For Long Island and job growth the best days are ahead of us,” Schumer said, noting that the headquarters employs 1,800 people and that it will attract businesses from all over the world.

Bellone thanked Canon for their commitment to environmental sustainability after Canon announced it has applied for top federal certification recognizing completion of its environment friendly features such as daylight harvesting, drought-resistant vegetation and electric vehicle charging stations.

“It is a testament to the talent and dedication of our employees,” said Joe Adachi, president and CEO of Canon U.S.A., who spent more than 1,000 hours designing headquarters. “It shows what can be accomplished with team work and hard work.”

Petrone said that Canon will be an anchor for Route 110. “It brought jobs that we are always trying to attract,” he said, adding that the school districts are excited and that it will help keep young people on Long Island.

The new headquarters has a state-of-the-art Showroom used for product demonstration for customers, dealers, media and students. One section is dedicated to mixed reality, which includes technology that combines the virtual world of computer-generated imagery with the real-world environment, allowing participants to see, experience and interact with designs in real time.

“We look forward to build relationships with our community,” Adachi said.

15 Independent Ice Cream Shops on Long Island

After surviving a record-breaking heat wave, Long Islanders have good reason to celebrate with a nice vanilla cone, especially since July is national ice cream month. Put away the Ben & Jerry’s and hold off on going to the ice cream franchise down the block. Instead, here are some independent, family-owned ice cream shops on the Island that are delicious homegrown alternatives.

Krisch’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor

Krischs
Krisch’s in Massapequa

11 Central Ave., Massapequa 516-797-3149

This 1950s-themed restaurant has been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for nearly a century, although it is best known for its sweet treats such as their homemade ice cream.  Whether customers are in the mood to cool off with an old-fashioned dessert item such as an ice cream soda or something more unusual like the Super Sock Hop Sundae, there are more than 30 flavors of ice cream, so there is something for everyone.

The Hollow Creamery

538 Westbury Ave., Carle Place 516-280-3703

This dessert shop sells coffee and espresso drinks but is best recognized for its homemade ice cream, which is made with high-quality ingredients in a variety of unique flavors.  The Hollow Creamery has free WiFi, a cozy atmosphere and a store owner who is a science teacher that is happy to teach customers the science of ice cream.

Magic Fountain

9825 Main Rd., Mattituck 631-298-4908

Magic Fountain opened in 1977 with the aim of bringing the joy of homemade frozen treats to everyone. The store has since flourished as one of the most popular ice cream shops on Long Island. It serves dozens of ice cream flavors, and as of recently, 32 flavors of soft serve ice cream.

Coyle’s Homemade Ice Cream

75 Howells Rd., Bay Shore and 509 Main Street, Islip 631-666-2229

Whether it’s the old-fashioned booths or the vintage jukebox, patrons will feel like they were transported back in time. This ice cream parlor has been serving 60 flavors of ice cream since 1985.

Sweets of the Spoon

Sweet of the Spoon
Sweet of the Spoon

597 Route 25A, Rocky Point 631-849-4771

The ice cream shop includes premium hard and soft ice creams and ices. The ice cream is displayed in shallow gelato pans and is handmade on the premises from local Italian ingredients.

McNulty Ice Cream Parlor

153 N Country Rd., Miller Place 631-474-3543

This shop has been a hot spot of the Miller Place community since it opened in 1991. It offers more than 40 homemade flavors of ice cream and Italian ices. The most popular flavors include moose tracks, raspberry truffle, mint chunk and vanilla peanut butter. The sand pail sundae, which includes a scoop of ice cream with one topping, whipped cream and a cherry served in a plastic pail is a favorite among children.

Walt Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour

211 Rockaway Ave, Valley Stream 516-825-7444

Walt Itgen first opened this old fashioned shop in 1967. It serves luncheonette-style food, but what really stands out is their ice cream. All of the toppings from the whipped cream to the wet nuts and syrups are homemade, which are perfect complements to the shop’s homemade ice cream.

Hildebrandt’s Restaurant

84 Hillside Ave., Williston Park 516-741-0608

This old school soda shop, which offers diner style food and homemade ice cream, has been in business since the 1920s.  Some of the ice cream flavors include root-beer rock ‘n’ roll, chocolate-mint wafer, crème brulee, banana foster and lemon-meringue pie.

Snowflake Ice Cream Shoppe

1148 West Main St., Riverhead 631- 727-4394

This ice cream parlor is usually buzzing with locals since it started serving homemade ice cream upon opening in 1953. A popular treat on the menu is the “Peconic Swamp Thing,” which is a blend of chocolate ice cream, fudge and brownies with ribbons of raspberry puree.

Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen

Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen
Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen

2391 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton 631-537-9885

This homemade ice cream shop founded in 1925 offers breakfast all day. Its fruit flavors made from local fruit in season are a specialty.

Marvel Dairy Whip

258 Lido Blvd., Lido Beach 516-889-4232

After soaking up the sun, beachgoers head over to this hot spot to enjoy a frozen treat. This Lido Beach landmark specializes in soft-serve ice cream.

Grandma’s Kitchen

316 Little East Neck Rd., West Babylon 631-661-5282

In 1987, Nancy Sweeney opened this family-style ice cream parlor in hopes of recreating old childhood memories. That dream came alive in the form of homemade ice cream and frozen specialties.

Ice Cream Cottage

1590 Montauk Hwy., Mastic 631-395-3580

John Pastore has been making ice cream from scratch for more than 20 years and frequently has a line out the door. This homemade ice cream comes in more than 48 flavors including garlic, pork and beans and wine sorbet.

International Delight Cafe

322 Bedford Ave., Bellmore and 241 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre 516-409-5772

This gelato-inspired ice cream is made with very little air whipped into it. The owner, Toni Rollandi, a devoted chocoholic, makes dozens of unique chocolate flavors.

Hicksville Sweet Shop

75 Broadway, Hicksville 516-931-0130

This restaurant first opened in 1925 as an ice cream bar. The owners, Phillip and Eva Zouro, take pride in the fact that they make their own ice cream, sauces, syrups and molded chocolates. Chocolate is their specialty flavor, which is made from a rich chocolate base intensified by their own cocoa flavoring.

Beach Water Quality Testing Standards Questioned

beach
Crescent Beach in Glen Cove

Long Island lawmakers are calling on the stricter guidelines for testing water quality at beaches following a new report that raised concerns about federal standards used in determining if swimmers are safe.

The National Resources Defense Council released a report last week that found, among other things, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s bar for keeping a beach open is if 1 in 28 swimmers may become ill from waterborne pathogens.

“The EPA needs to update their clean water standards,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) told reporters Friday at Glen Cove city’s Crescent Beach, which has been closed since 2009 due to unsafe bacteria levels. “Think of the jobs that long-term funding would create.”

New York State ranked 22nd in beach water quality out of 30 states surveyed with the leading cause of contamination being polluted storm water runoff, according to the study, Test the Waters 2013: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.

“We can’t enjoy our own bodies of water,” said Paul DeOrsay, executive director of Friends of the Bay.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, also joined in the call for more testing and for the public to be given more information.

“The bottom line is that we have become way too accepting of pollution in our water ways,” she said.

Fight Looms Over Proposed LNG Port Off Long Island

An artist's rendering of Port Ambrose (courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas)
An artist’s rendering of Port Ambrose (courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas)

Long Island lawmakers and environmental advocates are voicing concerns over a proposed liquefied natural gas port that would be located in the Atlantic Ocean, 19 miles south of the South Shore.

Liberty Natural Gas is seeking approval for “Port Ambrose,” a so-called deep-water port that would re-gasify fuel shipped from the Caribbean before pumping it through a 22-mile underwater pipeline supplying New York City and LI.

“The general public does not know about this,” Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) told reporters Monday during a news conference at Jones Beach. “We want more information, more public hearings and more time for public comment.”

He urged Long Islanders to attend the public hearing 6-9 p.m. July 9 at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach followed by a second hearing the next day at the NJ Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed LNG’s previous application for the proposed port. The company resubmitted its proposal at half the size as the original.

“Twenty two days is not enough for the people to voice their concerns,” Claudia Borecky, President of North Merrick Community Association, said. “I’m asking for 122 days.”

Clean Ocean Action, an NJ-based environmental group, said the port would discharge 3.5 million gallons of chemically-treated seawater used for pipe tests, generate significant underwater noise pollution and dredge up more than 20 miles of seafloor.

“The LNG port will adversely impact the economies and ecologies depended upon by millions of Americans and the public deserves the opportunity to give it careful consideration,” said Sean Dixon, the coastal policy attorney for the group. “In an event of another storm it will be a problem waiting to happen.”

The company said on a website dedicated to the proposal that the ship can disconnect from the pipeline in minutes and sail out to sea to avoid major storms.

Rav Freidel of Concerned Citizens of Montauk is concerned that the port may be used to export domestic gas instead of acting as an import terminal for LNG, as originally proposed.  The company also denies this.

Cuomo Touts Start-Up NY Plan on Long Island

Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo State of the State

Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to SUNY Old Westbury on Friday to tout the Start-Up NY program that he hopes to jumpstart New York State’s economy with tax breaks for start-up and tech businesses on Long Island.

The bill enacting the plan, which he signed into law on Monday, is designed to transform SUNY campuses and university communities across New York into tax-free communities for 10 years. Employees of businesses that open in these communities will also be exempt from paying income taxes, which is expected to create jobs and spur economic development in struggling areas across the state.

“Hurricane Sandy has given us the opportunity to rebuild better than we have ever before,” Cuomo told an audience gathered at the college.

“It has the potential to stimulate the new business industry and it has tremendous potential to help the state as well as businesses,” said Hubert Keen, president of Farmingdale State College.

About 120 million square feet of land is eligible to qualify as a tax-free community, which is more commercial space than the cities of San Francisco and Philadelphia combined, Cuomo said.

“We lose 75 percent of the new jobs we create within the first year,” Cuomo said. “We need to keep those jobs that we created.”

Local business leaders supported the plan.

“I think the governor’s Start-Up will be a very successful initiative,” said Kevin Law, president and Chief Executive Officer of Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group. “It will allow businesses to either startup or relocate without tax. This will encourage more businesses.”

Cuomo noted that amid the current crisis of public corruption in the New York State Legislature, the Start-Up NY plan includes strong provisions to protect against fraud.

“Let’s make people proud of the government once again,” Cuomo said.

For more information, visit the Start-Up NY website.

Long Island Congressman Urges Boycott of Princesses: Long Island

Princesses Long Island
Princesses: Long Island is set to debut June 2 on Bravo.

A Long Island congressman has joined the growing chorus of critics speaking out against Bravo’s new reality show, Princesses: Long Island, because he believes it fuels anti-Semitic stereotypes.

“I will not silently tolerate a show that paints Jewish women on Long Island with all-too-familiar and painful stereotypes — money-hungry, superficial, Jewish-American Princesses,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), who is Jewish, wrote in an op-ed published by the Huffington Post.

The lawmaker’s critique comes after Freeport residents were outraged that one of the women on the show called their village a “ghetto.”

Israel said that he will not continue to watch the show, the fourth episode of which airs 9 p.m. Sunday on Bravo.

The congressman was particularly upset by the show’s portrayal of the traditional Shabbat dinner, writing that it gives viewers who are unfamiliar with the significance of the Sabbath the wrong idea because it was exactly the opposite of what this sacred dinner is supposed to be.

In a recent episode, the dinner included excessive drinking and a feud between “princesses” Casey Cohen and Erica Gimbel which “princess” Chanel Omari called a “Shabbocalpyse”. Erica made the offensive statement at the table, “Shabbat, Shalom, go %^&* yourself.”

Israel wrote: “The characters do not shy away from any Jewish stereotypes and portray both Jews and Long Islanders in the most unflattering light possible.”

Jewish stereotypes in the previous episodes included the women fighting over who should sit at the corner of the table while citing a Jewish saying that those who sit at the corner aren’t getting married.

Steve Israel
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) at a news conference in Hicksville on Monday, April 29, 2013.

According to Israel, “the characters on the show spewed gross generalizations about the living and dating habits of unmarried Jewish women.”

​Bravo responded to the congressman in a statement, saying: “Princesses: Long Island is a show about six women who are young, educated, single and Jewish living in Long Island, and is not meant to represent all Jewish women or other residents of Long Island.”

Israel urged viewers to vote with their remote controls and boycott the show.

“Viewers should know that the show portrays the lives of the characters and is in no way representative of a religion, culture or geographic area.” he wrote. “I hope that others will join me in deciding that this show is not the type of TV we should be supporting.”

Freeport Defenders Speak Out Against Princesses: Long Island

Princesses Long Island
Princesses: Long Island debuted June 2 on Bravo.

Long Islanders gathered at E.B. Elliot’s on Freeport’s Nautical Mile to rally Friday against Princesses: Long Island, the new Bravo reality show they say gives viewers the wrong idea about LI residents.

Among those who showed were Jewish residents of the village offended by the stereotypes on the show, local Superstorm Sandy survivors who feel slighted by comments made about debris and a local rap group that wrote a song about the show after one of the cast called Freeport a “ghetto.”

“I hope that all this makes Bravo realize that what they are representing is not reality,” said Kimberly Creed Llompart, a Freeport resident who organized the event and formed the “Boycott Princesses of Long Island” Facebook group. “I was happy to see people in the community stand up for what is right.”

She and others hope that the show will not be renewed for a second season. The third episode airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on Bravo.

Nice and Ill, a rap group that includes Joey Jack, Chris Mills, and Jason Yarde, were shocked when Ashlee White, one of the “princesses,” called Freeport a “ghetto,” so they made the song defending the village. They performed their song, “Bravo,” which received almost 40,000 hits on YouTube in two days at the event.

“People outside of New York who watch the show are going to think, ‘Ew that’s how all Long Islanders are,’” Mills said. “No, this is false. This isn’t Long Island.”

Jack notes how White’s comment about the couches on the street was insensitive because he, along with many people in the community, were affected by the devastation of Sandy and some are still rebuilding.

Jenna Jones, who has lived in Freeport for 43 years, said that she was particularly offended by the Jewish stereotypes portrayed in the show because she is Jewish herself.

“We chose Freeport because of the diversity,” she said. “We wanted to raise our children in the real world.”

Former Freeport resident Grace Byrne Greene flew in from Key Largo, Fla. to show her support after being infuriated by how the show portrayed the village, particularly by including police sirens and focusing in on rundown houses. She worries about the impact on property values after the show “portrayed Freeport in the most disparaging light.”

She added that she invited Bravo representatives to the event to apologize, but they failed to show up. White has since apologized for calling Freeport a ghetto.

“We’re hurt that someone would depict Freeport in that way,” said Anita Scott, another Freeport resident who lost everything from Sandy and is staying with her son. “You’re insulting all of us.”

“After Sandy, everyone in the community was looking out for one another,” she said. “That’s Freeport. It’s not a ghetto.”