Rise and Shine: Aug. 14, 2019

Welcome to Wednesday, AKA “Hump Day,” CivMixers. Is it me, or is this week really screaming past at warp speed? Why does it seem like time moves more quickly the closer we get to the end of the summer?

Not that I don’t like fall, mind you. It’s actually one of my favorite seasons – crisp air, leaves turning colors and then crunching beneath your feet, tasty treats like apple cider doughnuts to munch, and, of course, everyone’s favorite fall drink: pumpkin spice latte.

Oh, what’s that you say?

Today a lucky few of you will be able to obtain – for free! – A PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE – compliments of that ubiquitous chain now known only as Dunkin’ (like Prince, or Cher, or Madonna, it needs only one name).

This is a promotion going on at eight Dunkin’ locations along the East Coast at select locations in cities where the first letter of each name spells out – what else? – “PSL.”

Also, they’ve got cider doughnuts now, and “Munchkins lip balm” with a pumpkin scent. Not joking.

This is all part of a promotion on Dunkin’s part to prepare us for the early rollout of its complete pumpkin menu on Aug. 21 at shops nationwide.

Apparently, Starbucks may also be rolling out its PSL early this year – perhaps its earliest fall launch ever.

So now we have a PSL war on our hands on top of everything else.

As some people up North prepare to indulge in all that spicy hot goodness, forecasters are warning about days of scorching, dangerous heat gripping a wide swath of the U.S. South and Midwest, where the heat index on Monday eclipsed 120 degrees (48.9 Celsius) in one town and climbed nearly that high in others.

Excessive heat warnings yesterday affected more than 17 million people and applied to almost all of Mississippi and wide areas of Alabama, Arkansas, northwestern Florida, Louisiana and western Tennessee.

Here at home, however, you can expect clouds and perhaps a few showers in the morning, and sun in the afternoon, with temperatures in high 70s to low 80s. It will feel a bit less humid.

And now, the non-PSL news…

The Child Victims Act officially takes effect today, prompting an immediate flood of electronically filed state Supreme Court lawsuits — the majority of which targeted Catholic dioceses across the state.

Hundreds, likely thousands of lawsuits were expected to be filed today. Aside from the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, public school districts and possibly even deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein are among the likely targets.

When the clock struck midnight this morning, Buffalo attorney Steve Boyd’s law offices were filled with staffers, survivors of child sex abuse, and media as the first claims under the Child Victims Act’s one-year look-back window were filed.

Boyd, who is working with the Minnesota-based Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm, planned to file 83 lawsuits against the Buffalo Diocese overnight.

Attorney Samantha Breakstone with Weitz and Luxenberg announced while standing in front of the Diocese of Buffalo that her firm alone plans to file more than 100 lawsuits in Western New York.

The victims’ advocacy group Safe Horizon is sponsoring public service announcements featuring four New York state lawmakers who were victims of abuse themselves in an effort to raise awareness about the Child Victims Act.

President Donald Trump took credit for a major manufacturing complex in western Pennsylvania in his latest effort to reinvigorate the Rust Belt support that elected him in 2016. Despite his claims, Shell announced its plans to build the complex in 2012 – midway through President Barack Obama’s term.

Trump unexpectedly put off new tariffs on many Chinese goods, including cellphones, laptop computers and toys, until after the start of the Christmas shopping season, acknowledging the effect that his protracted trade war with Beijing could have on Americans.

San Francisco and Santa Clara County in California filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from implementing a new rule that would deny permanent residency to legal immigrants if they are judged likely to use government benefit programs.

Twenty-two states, led by New York, sued the Trump administration to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s new power plant rule, arguing it fails to adequately protect Americans from pollution and the ravages of climate change.

Flights resumed at Hong Kong’s airport today after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence that highlight the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The 2020 Democratic field may soon be down a contender. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is considering ending his White House bid and pursuing a U.S. Senate run instead.

Stacey Abrams, who drew national attention during her unsuccessful run for governor of Georgia last year, won’t be running for president, but says she is open to being considered for the No. 2 spot by “any nominee.”

With the deadline to qualify for the next Democratic presidential debates looming just two weeks away, candidates on the bubble – including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who poured more than $1 million into Iowa and Ne Hampshire advertising – are mounting some of their final offensives, urgently seeking supporters who can help them make the cut.

Gillibrand is planning to hold a reproductive rights town hall in St. Louis, home of Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic.

The Federal Aviation Administration has banned certain MacBook Pro laptops on flights following an announcement by Apple Inc. that some use batteries that pose a fire or safety risk.

Alleged sex trafficker Epstein is dead, and now everyone is looking for the heiress-apparent of his cache of secrets, the international woman of mystery, Ghislaine Maxwell. Authorities reportedly don’t know where she is, but she appears to be in their sights.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is among a host of prominent figures in sharply questioning how Epstein died in an apparent suicide in federal jail, insisting that he was not dabbling in conspiracy theories even as he echoed them.

A person familiar with the probe of Epstein’s death at a federal jail says guards are suspected of falsifying log entries to show they were checking on inmates in his unit every half hour, when they actually weren’t.

New York students who haven’t been vaccinated against measles and other diseases are waiting to hear if they can go back to school. Lawyers will argue that question in an Albany court today.

Oneonta Republican Anthony German, who retired from the New York National Guard in February after rising to the rank of adjutant general, is filing paperwork today to challenge Rep. Antonio Delgado, a Dutchess County Democrat, in NY-19, which includes part of Rensselaer County and all of Schoharie, Greene and Columbia counties.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed three bills designed to reduce the number of children harmed by furniture tipping over and crib bumper pads.

The Rensselaer County Legislature voted unanimously to amend its one-year moratorium on new solid waste facilities to include nearly the entire county instead of just the area within a mile of the Hudson River.

Residents are questioning the Ballston town board’s transparency after it unanimously passed a resolution to move forward with the final draft of a town GEIS before sharing it with the public.

The long awaited decisions are in on two complaints to the City’s Ethics Board that have hovered over the campaigns of multiple candidates for re-election to their positions on the Saratoga Springs City Council in November.

Unionized workers at General Electric’s Schenectady and Niskayuna campuses have voted to approve a revised version of the four-year contract they voted to reject last month.

The first sixth grade class at the new North Albany Middle School will begin classes amid controversy about changes in just a couple of weeks.

Developers say local leaders in the Hudson Valley are blocking a housing project in order to keep out Hasidic Jews.

An overnight water main break on Route 9 South is causing detours and delays in a portion of Colonie.

A three-vehicle crash in Niskayuna landed two people in the hospital yesterday.

A doctor from Clifton Park is accused of handing out drug prescriptions without proper medical exams.

Jamir Hartfield, 19, of Albany, was arrested for the fourth time in about six months after being caught with a loaded handgun Monday night.

A village teen was arrested on Sunday night after he allegedly hit another teen in the face with a bicycle, Hoosick Falls Police Chief Robert Ashe said.

A Swedish court will rule today on whether American rapper A$AP Rocky is guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm.

A line snaked around Proctors Theatre in Schenectady last night as folks arrived for the opening night performance of “Hamilton.”

CNN host Don Lemon has been sued by a New Jersey man accusing Lemon of assaulting him and making lewd remarks to him at a bar.

Italian American New Yorkers weighed in on CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s claim that “Fredo” is an ethnic slur — and while they said it’s insulting, the agreement was that anyone who likens it to the N-word is stunad.

The corporate boards of Viacom and CBS agreed to merge in an all-stock deal, reuniting the Redstone family’s entertainment holdings after a series of legal battles and corporate intrigues.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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