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And They’re Off …

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Genting NY appears to have cleared the final hurdle in winning the contract to build and operate video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack. After all the bids were evaluated, the subsidiary of a Malaysian-based company was the only horse left in the race.

Last week, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver signed off on the deal. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo still need to give their approval, but this appears to be a formality.

Stefan Friedman, a Genting spokesman, said the company is “honored” to have the support of the governor and state Legislature.

The hope is that the VLTs will create hundreds of good-paying jobs. In addition, Genting has agreed to pay the state $380 million upfront and contribute 1 percent of its net profits to the community. The hiring will begin when the company gets permission to begin construction.

Although we have reservations about encouraging people to gamble, we welcome Genting to Queens.

With the number of unemployed continuing to grow, the news of the hiring for the building and operation of the VLTs could not come at a better time.

No Tolerance for Intolerance

The World Trade Center was destroyed Sept. 11, 2001, because the Twin Towers stood as a powerful symbol of all that makes this nation great. The Muslim extremists who steered two airliners into the WTC had no tolerance for freedom of religion.

But on that day members of the Islamic faith were among the thousands burned in the rubble beyond recognition.

For this and other reasons we are stunned and saddened by the opposition to the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero. If that opposition succeeds, the terrorists who hijacked the four planes that day will have won. Although many of the people who have become vocal in their opposition may be sincere, they are allowing the memory of their loved ones to be exploited by others driven by intolerance and a political agenda.

The fact that this has become an emotional issue for the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 is understandable, but their hurt and fear cannot and should not override the First Amendment or this city’s history of religious tolerance.

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