Two bills

Dear Editor,
In his letter last week, Dispatcher Larry Penner tries to equate the January 6th Capitol riot with the protests that took place after what he refers to as the unfortunate death of George Floyd.
First of all, the “unfortunate death” was murder. He’s right that taxpayers were “stuck with the bill” to clean up after the protests, but what is “the bill” to be paid after Donald Trump incited white supremacists to attempt an insurrection of our democracy?
Penner complains of a bill that needs to be paid, yet looks the other way regarding an attack on the Constitution of the United States.
Robert LaRosa, Sr.

No Chick ban

Dear Editor,
State Assembly members Harry Bronson of Rochester and Deborah Glick and Danny O’Donnell of Manhattan recently sent a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority executive director Matthew Driscoll opposing the opening of Chick-fil-A franchises at the Thruway rest stops.
They claim to represent the interests of the LGBTQ community, but in calling for the denial of this free enterprise business to open new locations is also intolerant.
Chick-fil-A has opened dozens of stores in New York State. They are in the process of opening 200 stores in New York City alone.
Chick-fil-A provides gainful employment to construction contractors and their employees to build each operation, as well as cooks, cashiers and food supply deliverers. This benefits many who reside in communities with high unemployment in upstate New York.
Many more open-minded members of the LGBTQ community work or dine there. Chick-fil-A provides a quality product at reasonable prices.
And revenues generated by Chick-fil-A at Thruway rest stops will help the Thruway Authority pay off the $3.9 billion tab for the Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.
If you don’t like the politics of Chick-fil-A, don’t eat there, but don’t deny the civil liberties of others who might prefer Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A owners and employees are our neighbors who pay taxes. True tolerance means accepting those with different values than your own. There are plenty of other dining options available at New York State Thruway rest stops if you don’t want to patronize Chick-fil-A.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Left behind

Dear Editor,
As an EMT/EMS first responder who was awarded the Healthcare Hero award for COVID-19, I was honored to march in the parade in the Canyon of Heroes on July 7 with truly amazing and wonderful participants.
However, I was disappointed that although
I marched with the First Responders Contingent that included EMTs, nurses, doctors, police officers and members of the FDNY
However, I was disappointed we were placed behind other groups that marched ahead of us, specifically the United Federation of Teachers and Planned Parenthood.
Who made them heroes? The mayor and City Council. Was it to curry favor, endorsements and political contributions?
By the time the first responders hit City Hall, all the ticker tape was on the floor and had already been thrown on the people and groups that were placed at the head of the parade.
The showmanship is distasteful when the city throws a parade to honor COVID-19 heroes, but puts them at the back of the line.
John Ciafone

Investigate Cuomo

Dear Editor,
It is beyond any sense of decency, logic or comprehension as to why the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will not investigate whether the civil rights of residents in New York nursing homes were violated by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s controversial policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo continues to evade responsibility for causing this tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of more than 15,000 people.
The 15,000 families who lost loved ones should file a lawsuit in federal court to demand DOJ investigate. And Cuomo should immediately step down as governor because his political credibility is gone.
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Epigenetics: environment & genes

There has been a pervasive thought in both biology and medicine that humans are limited by their genes. It’s true that traits like height and eye color are dictated by the genes you inherit. You can’t manipulate your eye color, for example, without contact lenses.
Diseases also have a genetic component. So, are we are locked in by our genes, as far as disease goes? Not necessarily. Most chronic diseases are influenced by a combination of genes and environment. This means that your family history of cancer or diabetes, for instance, does not necessarily mean that you are highly likely to get the disease.

Epigenetics is a burgeoning field with a potentially powerful impact on preventing and treating chronic diseases. Literally, it means “above the gene.” In other words, epigenetics regulates gene expression, or the turning on and off of genes, based on our behavior and environmental factors. This can have beneficial or detrimental effects.
It does this through transcription factors – proteins that bind to genes and determine whether they are expressed or suppressed. There are at least 2,000 transcription factors. Examples of some of the more researched transcription factors include NF-kB, increasing oxidation and inflammation; p53, a tumor suppressor; and NRF-2, an antioxidant response.
However, epigenetics does not alter the DNA sequencing of the gene itself. This differentiates it from gene therapy, which is a more complicated process that has thus far eluded medicine, with a few exceptions.

The biochemistry behind epigenetics
Environmental factors, such as diet, toxins, drugs and exercise affect which transcription factors are up-regulated or down-regulated and then, in turn, the genes that are turned on or off. For instance, vitamin D may have an effect on over 200 genes.
To date, cancer is the disease most extensively studied. Cells can be transformed into cancer cells due to down-regulation of tumor suppression genes and expression of oncogenes, pro-cancer genes. The opposite is also true. Epigenetics can cause tumors to either proliferate or be suppressed, depending on environmental influences.

Dietary factors
Diet plays a central role in determining whether cancer develops. There are bioactive compounds in foods that bind to the transcription factors.
Examples of dietary agents that can interfere with the development of tumors in cancer and activate tumor suppressor genes include spices, such as curcumin (turmeric); genistein, a polyphenol found in soybeans; tea polyphenols, highest in green tea; resveratrol, found in grapes, peanuts and blueberries; and sulforaphanes, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. This is not an exhaustive list.
There was a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology demonstrated the benefits of soy in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type. The soybeans increased the sensitivity of cancer cells to the radiation, allowing for their destruction.
Soybean isoflavones help to boost the effect of radiation on cancer cells by blocking the enzyme APE1/Ref-1, which inhibits DNA repair in these cells. They also protect surrounding healthy cells with an antioxidant effect.
The soy isoflavones also had an inhibitory effect on transcription factors NF-kB and HIF-1 alpha. These are examples of factors that induce oncogenes (pro-cancer cells) to be up-regulated, or turned on. Interestingly, in previous studies, soy pills with genistein were used to help destroy cancer cells, but the author suggests that soybeans themselves, with multiple bioactive compounds, are more effective.
Cancer prevention and treatment is but one of the effects of epigenetics. It has also been shown to have potentially beneficial effects in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and allergies. It may even have a direct role in longevity or an indirect role, by preventing chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes.
Thus, our health outcomes are not predetermined, and the wonderful news is that we have much more control than we once thought.

Don’t Expand Draft Registration, End It

In a rare moment of moral clarity, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) points out that “America’s daughters shouldn’t be drafted against their will.”
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the usually bellicose Cotton voted against advancing the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act after committee chair Jack Reed (D-RI) added an amendment requiring women between the ages of 18 and 25 to register with the Selective Service System.
It’s good to see Cotton on the right side of an issue, as happens occasionally (very occasionally). And the NDAA, being mostly unrelated to anything resembling actual “national defense,” deserves to go down hard for many, many reasons.
But where’s Cotton’s opposition to requiring men to register for the draft?
In the early 1970s, the U.S. armed forces transitioned to an “all-volunteer force” after drafting 2.2 million men into its Vietnam war machine between 1964 and 1973.
About 1.5 million Americans were drafted for the Korean War, 10 million for World War II, and 2.8 million for World War I. Draft registration ended in 1975, but resumed in 1980.
Fortunately, even during the darkest days of the “nation-building” fiasco in Afghanistan and the naked aggression of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, Congress quailed from reinstating the draft and allowed the military to lower recruitment standards instead (perhaps explaining how a sociopath like Tom Cotton became an infantry officer).
But nearly a half-century after the last involuntary induction, the shadow of potential conscription still looms over young Americans.
In fact, many states have moved against the ability to resist draft registration as a form of civil disobedience (as a brave handful of Americans, including prominent libertarian commentator and personal mentor Paul Jacob, went to prison for doing in the early 1980s) by automatically registering males who apply for driver’s licenses or state ID cards.
Both of my kids received postcards from Selective Service “thanking” them for registering, even though they never did so (the state of Florida did so “for” them).
Supreme Court rulings to the contrary notwithstanding, conscription is clearly unconstitutional under the 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
And even if it wasn’t unconstitutional, it would still be slavery and slavery would still be wrong.
Instead of registering women for potential slavery, draft registration should be ended, entirely and permanently.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Will Queens go all blue this November?

The general election later this year probably won’t excite many voters.
The Republicans won’t be fielding many competitive candidates in the numerous City Council seats that will be open this year thanks to term limits. The Democrats who won their primaries will likely have a cakewalk into office.
As for citywide races, there are Republican candidates for mayor, public advocate and comptroller, with mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa enjoying the greatest name recognition.
However, as we pointed out last week, Eric Adams is basically being treated like the next mayor of New York City already, so it’s unlikely the Guardian Angels founder and radio show host is going to stand much of a chance in November.
Although, perhaps voter apathy will help the GOP. Given the overwhelming advantage Democrats have over Republicans in registered voters, Democratic voters failing to show up to the polls because they think the race is already won might be the Republicans only chance at victory.
Doubtful, but it’s a longshot.
We caught Tony Avella at an event recently during which he referred to Assemblyman Ed Braunstein as his “colleague in government” before rightfully checking himself. Avella only won the Democratic Primary for his old City Council seat in northeast Queens, and as such isn’t in government yet.
Avella actually has a Republican challenger in Vickie Paladino, who knows how to run a competent campaign and has already been engaging with voters because she actually had a challenger in the Republican Primary.
But while Avella was in office, he appealed to voters of both parties because he focused primarily on quality-of-life issues facing his constituents and steered clear of party politics, that is until he joined the Independent Democratic Conference in Albany, a group of renegade state senators who caucused with Republicans.
That decision became part of his downfall when progressive groups campaigned hard against him and helped get John Liu elected.
Now that he has won the primary, he is out there focusing on the issues that always helped him get elected. He recently called on the city to fix the roads in College Point, the LIRR to shut down a noisy Bayside rail yard, and we hear he is going to be calling attention to a controversial land issue soon.
If he sticks to that playbook, it’s going to hard for Paladino to make any headway with voters.
Another race worth paying attention to is in south Queens, where Councilman Eric Ulrich – the lone Republican elected official left in the borough – is term-limited out of office.
Felicia Singh won the Democratic Primary, and she will face off against Joann Ariola, who is also chair of the Queens County Republican Party. The district leans conservative, and some voters, even Democrats, might see Singh as too progressive.
There are pockets across Queens where Democrats have no problem voting for a Republican if they prefer the candidate, and south Queens is one of them. Ariola could benefit from that tendency.
But there is a monkey wrench in the race. Kenichi Wilson was kicked off the ballot in the Democratic Primary after a supporter of fellow candidate Mike Scala challenged his petition signatures.
The Board of Elections validated his signatures and said he could remain on the ballot, but the same supporter filed a peremptory lawsuit with the state before that decision, which kept him off the ballot for good.
During the whole process, Wilson incurred tens of thousands in legal fees, much of which he paid with matching funds from the city. If he didn’t run in either the primary or general election, he would have to pay all of that money back.
So partially to stay out of debt and partially to run for the seat he intended to from the start, he formed his own third party. Wilson will run on the Community First line this November.
Remember when we said conservative Democrats could be persuaded to vote for Ariola? That might not be the case with Wilson on the ballot. Those votes could go to him instead, hurting her chances.
As for Singh, some Democrats who don’t necessarily care for her but would never vote for a Republican, might instead vote for Wilson, which would hurt Singh’s chances.
It’s going to be interesting to see which candidate is effected most by Wilson’s decision to stay in the race.
And if Ariola and Paladino both lose, it means Queens will be all blue.

Two Deadline Approaches

In the days leading up to the July 31st MLB trade deadline, one would have figured the Yankees and Mets would be in the exact same position: buy and win at all costs.
That thought process in the preseason made perfect sense. After all, the Yankees and the Mets were supposed to be two legitimate World Series contenders.
Things have changed since the middle of March.
The Yankees have been the biggest disappointment in baseball. The Red Sox and Rays have surpassed them in the AL East, putting them at the point of no return as far as winning the division is concerned.
However, the second Wild Card puts the Yankees very much in the postseason conversation.
Despite all of their flaws and issues, the Yankees are only two games back in the loss column behind the Oakland A’s for the final postseason spot in the American League.
So how exactly do you handle the trade deadline?
The Yankees are not going to sell off assets considering they are within striking distance of the postseason, but considering their deficit in the AL East is it worth going all in on this 2021 team?
The Yankees should look to add to the roster, but the idea of making an all-in type of move in 2021 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
That said, the Yankees should think about adding to the roster, but with the mindset of trying to add for 2021 and beyond. Long-term moves make sense, short-sighted moves do not.
The Mets find themselves in a much different predicament.
They are in first-place in the NL East and could be a very dangerous postseason team.
It’s not to suggest the Mets should mortgage their future on one specific player, but their front office can think about the idea of making one move to potentially put the team over the top.
Is that player Kris Bryant or Max Scherzer? Uncertain, but if the Mets brass believes that one player can take the team to the next level, that is the move that should be made.
The Mets should be in a far more aggressive position come July 31 in comparison to the Yankees. The results in the standings are the ultimate proof.
This week should be about cautious buying for the Yankees and aggressive buying for the Mets.

You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify and Apple Podcasts every Monday, Wednesday & Friday morning.

Queens Night Market is thriving post-pandemic

Since it’s opening in 2015, Queens Night Market has built a reputation for its large crowds, diverse vendors, and delicious cheap bites. Although the pandemic forced the food festival to limit capacity and enforce restrictions, it has now returned to full capacity and shows no signs of slowing down.
Queens Night Market founder John Wang and his partner, oral historian and author of the book The World Eats Here: Amazing Food and the Inspiring People Who Make It at New York’s Queens Night Market, Storm Garner, discussed the festival’s origins, success, and cultural importance.
“The really short story is that I was a lawyer, got tired of it, paid off the student loans, and wanted to try something new,” Wang explained. “There were a lot of ideas, but one that seemed really cool was to start New York’s first night market, modeled off the ones I experienced in Taiwan but also something that was uniquely New York.
“We also wanted something uniquely un-New York: being affordable,” he added. “That was the genesis of the $5 price cap.”
Although the food at Queens Night Market is inexpensive, it does a remarkable job of representing the many diverse communities living within the borough.
“The truth is that Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx are all diverse, but Queens just happens to be the most diverse,” Wang said. “I think the year we launched was the year that Queen’s was named the ‘World’s Borough.’ It is, by some accounts, the most diverse place in the world.”
“I think it really is something unique,” Garner chimed in. “It felt a bit like an endangered species during the Trump era and certainly during the pandemic, but now it feels like it’s coming back.
“I challenge anyone to think of a place in all of New York, diverse as it is, where you can stand in the same place and within 50 feet of you in any direction talk to somebody whose life story is so different from your own and the person next to them,” she added. “The seven train is often just as diverse, but less happy.”
Located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of the famous 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, the Queens Night Market features over 100 vendors whose artwork, merchandise, and food celebrates the cultural diversity of Queens.
Yet like all of New York City’s institutions, the market was fundamentally challenged by the pandemic. Although many vendors are returning this year alongside the festival, others were not able to support themselves without a year’s worth of revenue.
“One of my favorite vendors, someone who I thought was really nice, lost her ability to be a vendor at the Night Market,” Wang explained. “ They lost their apartment because they couldn’t pay rent and had to move in with extended family out of town. We’ve been trying hard to get them back to New York.”
Despite these hardships, Queens Night Market continues to be a source of great joy for both Wang and Garner.
“There’s usually five or 10 or 15 minutes, usually when I have a beer or wine in my hand, that I can sit back and enjoy what has happened,” Wang said. “You stare around at all the smiling faces and it looks like all of New York City is in attendance.”
“If you come to the Night Market, especially in the last few weeks since the pandemic reopening, I have to say it’s just the most magical feeling,” Garner said. “It’s just so much joy. There are so many uncynical New Yorkers, who I’m sure they’re cynical in most of their lives, but for a few hours on a Saturday night everyone’s nice to each other.”
Queens Night Market is held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park near the New York Hall of Science every Saturday night from 6 p.m. until Midnight. The market’s summer season lasts until August 21 and is followed by a fall season lasting from September 18 until October 30.

Community helps restore vandalized statues

The statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Therese the Little Flower have been a cherished part of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Forest Hills since it opened its doors in 1937.
On the morning on July 17, it took only minutes for a woman to drag them into the street and smash them. She is believed to be the same woman who toppled the statues on July 14.
Through the darkness came light, however, as community residents and organizations who joined forces to replicate the statues.
As of Monday, 129 people donated over $19,500 to a fundraiser posted on Go Fund Me started by Brian Allen on behalf of Knights of Columbus–Our Lady of Mercy Council and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy.
The goal is $25,000. In addition, donations can be mailed to Our Lady of Mercy Statue Repair at 79-01 Kessel Street.
As an lector and 14-year parishioner at the church, Michael Conigliaro (also a District 29 City Council candidate), is playing a significant role in fundraising, protecting his parish, and speaking up about hate and vandalism. Upon learning about the crime, he contacted Deacon Dean Dobbins. He said,
“I reached out to a 112th Precinct colleague with a request that a patrol car be parked outside the church and it was granted,” said Michael Conigliaro, a lector and 14-year parishioner at the church.
Replacing the statues shows that hate or disrespect aimed towards any house of faith will not be tolerated.
“For people who pass the parish, they will always see the beauty of the statues and understand what they represent,” added Conigliaro. “Before someone considers performing an act of hate, they should try to empathize and consider what the effect of the damage will have on the community.”
“The statues were such an important element for a young child who needed that gentle but strong maternal figure in their lives” said Lori Jarema, who was a student at Our Lady of Mercy in the 60’s. “I love the pictures we took in front of Mary from my First Communion and graduation.”
Nancy J. O’Connor and her family were parishioners from 1951 to 2006.
“Replacing these statues for the current members and people who recall Our Lady of Mercy fondly sends a message that we will not be intimidated by this type of behavior,” she said. “Each day we see more reports of vandalism and violence, and these actions must have consequences.”
Although Andreea Sudresianu is not a parishioner, she contributed to the fund to replace the statues.
“I used to stop for a few moments and say a little prayer every time I passed by, and I rediscovered this beautiful place on my daily walks during the pandemic,” she said. “I always felt safe on these streets, but I wonder where that woman is and how she dared to do such a terrible thing.”

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