2016-08-31 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

No Excuses

To The Editor:

Labor Day is a national toast to the American worker. It’s a time to relax with family and friends as we say cheers to another year of hard work and goodbye to another summer. Many Americans will come together this weekend over a well-earned beer, and as always, we’ll be encouraging drinkers to celebrate responsibly.

As the local Anheuser-Busch distributor we are committed to helping keep the local roads safe this Labor Day weekend.

We hope residents of New York will join us this Labor Day in telling adults to “Give A Damn. Don’t Drive Drunk. Care enough to get home safely. No excuses.”

C.A. Verdon
Consumer Social
Responsibility Coordinator
Anheuser-Busch Sales
& Service Of New York, Inc.

Let Sikhs Play

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
August 23
Horacio Muratori, President, International
Basketball Federation /Federation Internationale
de Basketball

Route Suisse 5
1295 Miles - Switzerland

Dear President Muratori,

Nearly two years ago, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), after preventing observant Sikhs from participating in international games, announced that it would review its policies and after the 2016 Olympics make a decision on whether observant Sikh basketball players may participate in future FIBA games. In explaining its ban of observant Sikhs, FIBA said the wearing of a small turban violated Article 4.4.2 of FIBA’s official rules, which states that “Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players.”

Now, as we are days or weeks away from FIBA’s timeline for a final decision, we reiterate strong Congressional support for a decisive change in FIBA policies.

Sikhs participate in a wide variety of sports around the globe, and there has never been a single instance of someone being harmed or injured by a turban, or of a turban interfering with the sport. Already, at both the amateur and professional levels, Sikhs have played sports without a problem. This includes Sikh American Dipanjot Singh, who played Division I basketball at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) before going on to play semi-professional basketball in several leagues. It also includes Darsh Preet Singh, who played at the NCAA level at Trinity University in Texas. Both were beloved by teammates and excelled in their roles. Darsh’s jersey has been at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, to help recognize him as the first-ever Sikh- American to play in the NCAA.

Observant Sikhs excel at more than basketball. In fact, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) already changed its policies to ensure that Sikhs and other religious minorities are not subjected to discrimination. Sikh FIFA players wear turbans while playing in international soccer events.

Given this information, it is long past time that FIBA ends discrimination against observant Sikhs and allows them to participate; such a change could also expand opportunities for players of other faiths, such as observant Muslims. Basketball has rapidly become a global sport, popular not only in the United States, but in countries like India, where many Sikhs proudly participate. There is no justification for continuing the ban, and we strongly appeal to you to quickly announce that observant Sikhs and others may participate in all FIBA games without being forced to remove their articles of faith.

Joseph Crowley and over 40 Members of
Congress, including Ami Bera, Grace Meng,
Nydia M. Velázquez, Carolyn B. Maloney,
Gregory W. Meeks and Steve Israel

Prison Is Not Industry

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens
August 18, 2016
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Johnson:

Today, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States issued a memorandum to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) directing it to end the use of privately operated prisons. As the administrator of the largest detention and supervised release program in the country (holding in custody almost twice the number of persons BOP currently holds – approximately 400,000, to 200,000, respectively) I request you issue a corresponding memorandum.

Immigration detention system beds are spread across more than 250 detention facilities nationwide. According to the Center for American Progress, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “owns only 11 percent of the beds; 18 percent are housed in for-profit prisons under contract with ICE, and 24 percent are located in facilities owned by state and local governments that exclusively house immigrants for ICE…Some state and local facilities are also subcontracted with for- profit prison companies.” (How For-Profit Companies Are Driving Immigration Detention Policies, Sharita Gruberg, Dec., 2015, http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wecontent/uploads/2015/12/17121556/For-P...). Allowing publicly-traded and private companies to profit from the detention of human beings is no morally different than allowing them to profit from state-mandated incarceration. America has allowed the proliferation of perverse detention and incarceration policy incentives for too long. The fact that the term “prison industry” even exists is itself a condemnation of our nation.

Please help cure this evil. Please end the DHS Practice of for-profit detention.

Grace Meng
Member of Congress

Terminal Alternatives

To The Editor:

There are other options to recent differences between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey versus some NYC elected officials on how to advance the PANYNJ Bus Terminal replacement project. Everyone agrees that the existing facility is antiquated lacking sufficient capacity to deal with current and future needs. The PANYNJ needs $10 billion to build a new facility at the same or new location.

Amtrak is looking for $24 billion to fund the “Gateway” project for construction of a new tunnel providing additional access to Penn Station from New Jersey for Amtrak and NJ Transit and $1.5 billion to extend PATH from Penn Station Newark to Newark Airport.

Based upon past history, it is doubtful either agency will ever find these dollars.

A better solution is to extend the MTA NYC Transit 7 train subway extension from the Hudson Yards Javits Convention Center station on to New Jersey Transit’s Secaucus Junction station by Exit 15X on the NJ Turnpike. Build a new bus terminal at Secaucus. This could divert thousands of riders from both the 42nd St. Bus Terminal and Penn Station.

Ask the MTA, NYC, New York State, New Jersey, NJ Transit, PANYNJ and US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration to provide financial contributions for fully funding this project. Riders and taxpayers from both states would benefit.

Imagine providing a direct connection linking New Jersey, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and Queens under a one-seat ride. This could assist thousands of reverse commuters to employment centers along with sporting events such as NJ Giants, NJ Jets and concerts at the Meadowlands (via Secaucus Junction station), NY Mets and concerts at Citi Field, US Open, Arthur Ash stadium along with Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Queens Zoo. Thousands of New Jersey residents would have easier access to Manhattan’s East Side. Metro- North commuters via Grand Central Terminal (along with Long Island Rail Road riders when East Side Access to GCT is completed in 2023) would have a new option to New Jersey.

This could afford PANYNJ the ability to renovate the existing 42nd St. Bus Terminal within the existing footprint in phases without the need of significant adjacent private property condemnation in phases. Amtrak could shut down one Hudson River tunnel from New Jersey to Penn Station at a time for critical repairs. Both could remain in transit service with necessary work accomplished at a far lower cost.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

McDonald House A Haven

To The Editor:

I am glad that Braunstein honored the Ronald McDonald House which is a haven for parents and family of children who are ill with cancer and other issues.

I am also glad that lighting fixtures were installed in Ravenswood Housing.

I am also glad that children entering school will be given vaccines, and it is necessary that they receive them. Disease is important to be vaccinated against.

I am glad that National Service Day will be on September 11. There should not be any campaigning. I am glad that Saint Michael's cemetery will host on the 17th of September a special service for our fallen heroes on that fatal day 15 years ago.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

No Qualified Candidate

To The Editor:

As this very volatile presidential election race continues, are either one of the presumptive candidates for the Republican and Democratic Parties really qualified to lead our nation for the next four years? A recent poll showed that 70 percent of voters feel that Donald Trump is not a qualified candidate, and that 55 percent of voters feel that Hillary Clinton is also not a qualified candidate. With numbers like these, we are in very serious trouble. This country has never been so polarized by an upcoming presidential election since 1976 and 1980. Whoever does win this election will have plenty of work to do, both here at home and also overseas since our economic and foreign policies have been left in a shambles by the administration of President Barack Obama, who seems to only have time for photo ops. Our Congress is in turmoil also, and cannot seem to pass any serious legislation at all. Start praying for a miracle folks, because we are certainly going to need one.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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