While You Were Out: July 22, 2019

Another Monday over and almost done, CivMixers. Let’s get right to it, and check the headlines…

The White House officials and Congress are nearing a deal that would boost government spending levels over the next two years and raise the federal borrowing limit. If passed and signed by President Trump, it would avert a default crisis this fall and avoid automatic spending cuts next year.

The credit bureau Equifax will pay at least $650 million and potentially significantly more to end an array of state, federal and consumer claims over a 2017 data breach that exposed the sensitive information of more than 147 million people – the largest ever paid by a company over this sort of incident.

New York has become the first U.S. state to ban the declawing of cats statewide. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law today that outlaws the procedure and imposes a $1,000 fine on veterinarians who perform it.

Cuomo called the procedure “archaic” as well as “inhumane and unnecessary.” Declawing will still be legal in any case where it’s medically necessary for the cat.

This comes as Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing a declawing ban.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he had lost faith in ConEd, the utility powering most of the city, after several heat-related outages in the past week, adding that the state should consider whether a new entity should replace the utility.

Russia’s attempts to influence and sway the 2016 presidential election should be a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to a congressional panel on Wednesday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as Democrats plan to air evidence of wrongdoing by Trump in a potentially last-ditch bid to impeach him.

Schumer took a pass on addressing a lengthy article in the New Yorker that includes criticism of his handling of former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation last year amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The state’s senior U.S. senator was in Albany today, sounding the alarm over the declining population of honeybees, which he owes are fundamental to farming. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently decided to stop collecting data on bee colonies in places like the Capital Region.

In the article, Franken said he “absolutely” regrets resigning from the Senate after several women accused him of unwanted kissing or touching, and seven current or former senators – though not Kirsten Gillibrand – say they regret calling for his resignation in December 2017.

The state Senate will hold seven hearings and roundtable discussions on how to tackle opioid overdose and prevention, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said.

Iran announced the arrest of 17 Iranians accused of spying on the country’s nuclear and military sites for the CIA and said some of them have been sentenced to death. Trump called it “another lie” from Iran.

Excelsior College President James N. Baldwin plans to retire from his role next July, the college announced.

John O’Donnell is retiring from his position as chief executive officer of the Albany County Airport Authority, a position he has held for nearly 16 years.

A disagreement over his son’s medication led a man to pepper-spray the nurse at a day camp program at Spring Valley High School this morning, officials said.

State Police said that they found the body of a missing boater near the Northampton State Campground on Great Sacandaga Lake.

Woodstock 50’s efforts to put on a golden anniversary festival at Vernon Downs have been denied again, after organizers submitted a safety plan that was “worthless as a basis for issuing a permit.”

Legalized sports betting has come to New York, with two casinos offering gamblers the chance to bet on athletic events, in addition to games of chance. Others are set to open in coming weeks.

The identity of the driver killed in a double tractor-trailer crash last week on the Northway has been released: Scott Rorapaugh, 61, of Pennsylvania.

The state Department of Health, working collaboratively with the Albany County Department of Health, Montgomery County Public Health, Saratoga County Public Health and Schenectady County Public Health Services, is investigating reports of multiple cases of Cyclosporiasis.

A witness in the 2016 murder trial of Oral “Nick” Hillary in the death of a 12-year-old Potsdam boy was recorded making racially charged remarks about planning to fabricate his testimony, an HBO documentary reveals.

Waving flags, chanting and banging pots and pans, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans filled a central expressway today to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in what appeared to be the biggest protest on the island in nearly two decades.

Among those calling on Russello to resign: State AG Tish James.

Over two dozen education advocacy groups have been subpoenaed by James’ office in an ongoing lawsuit challenging New York’s education funding – subpoenas the groups argue detract from their core missions of serving students, parents and educators.

New York’s newest political party – the Serve America Movement, or SAM – is raising money, recruiting members, doesn’t have any litmus tests and hopes to grow in an era of heightened partisanship by being…less partisan.

Lil Nas X has taken his horse to the old town road and ridden it to the top of the Billboard charts for 16 weeks, tying a record set by Mariah Carey and Luis Fonsi.

Bad news for avocado lovers.

Photo credit: Sacandaga Lake sunset, by Kayla Tote, owner/head coach at CrossFit For The People.

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