Today’s news:

Queens Will Miss Tom White

The TimesLedger Newspapers joins southeast Queens in mourning the passing of City Councilman Thomas White. White died of cancer last week at 71.

White was first elected to the Council in 1991. In addition to his work on the Council, White served as the co-founder and executive director of J-Cap, a substance abuse help center. White took a hands-on role at the center and oversaw many of its operations for years. White had triumphed in his own battle with drugs and understood the challenges facing the people of southeast Queens.

As a councilman, White fought to rid southeast Queens of the influence of violent gangs and drug dealers. He played a major role in restoring Baisley and Roy Wilkins parks. Today these are places families can come to without fear. These parks now host concerts, family picnics and other events. The events bring local residents, police and elected officials together.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said White “searched for ways to break the cycle of poverty and violence.”

His fellow councilman, James Sanders, added, “Tom represents one of the pioneers in southeast Queens politics and opened the door for us to come through. His sense of humor and good manners will surely be missed.”

The directors of J-Cap said the organization’s battle against drug and alcohol abuse will go on.

White will be missed.

Madness

We are stunned that a taxi driver from Jamaica was stabbed in the neck and nearly killed because he happens to be Muslim. We hope the time will never come when New York City is not shocked by such an event.

Ahmad Sharif, a Bangladeshi immigrant and father of four, was allegedly attacked by a filmmaker riding in his cab who had questioned him about his religious beliefs. According to the police, the attacker shouted, “Peace be upon you,” and later, “Consider this a checkpoint.”

Later the same week, a man walked into a mosque in Astoria and urinated on a prayer rug. It may be that both of these men have a screw loose, but it seems they were emboldened by the fear and ignorance sweeping across this city. To not see a connection between these attacks and the non-stop anti-Muslim rhetoric would be foolish and dangerous.

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