Happy Wednesday, CivMixers. Welcome to the middle of the week.

If you’re the sort who goes in for watching a crowd of hyper-ambitious people debate high-minded policy proposals and passive-aggressively prod one another, you’re in luck! Tonight is the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate!

Tonight’s verbal slugfest will feature 10 candidates. (Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro failed to qualify this time and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has ended his bid for the White House). The festivities kick off at 9 p.m. at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s being broadcast by MSNBC and co-hosted by the Washington Post.

There is a cool new thing about this debate: It will include an all-female panel of moderators, which is something that’s only happened twice before in presidential primary debates. Moderators include Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker.

An added wrinkle: four Democratic candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, weighed in on sexual harassment and misconduct issues at Comcast-owned NBCUniversal less than 48 hours before they are scheduled to appear on the debate stage.

In a letter to Democratic Party officials, the candidates called for an outside review of the workplace culture at NBC News.

The debate is taking place as two new candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, have recently signaled plans to jump in, (they won’t be on stage this evening), while polling has remained relatively steady for the rest of the field.

Former Vice President Joe Biden still has a slight lead, as Warren (Massachusetts) and Sanders (Vermont) continue to trail him. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is surging in the polls, thanks to support in early-voting states, but his campaign has stumbled in efforts to reach out to and win over African American voters.

If you’re not interested in the debate, well, here’s something else for you: World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on 20 Nov. each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.

It’s also National Education Support Professionals Day, National Absurdity Day, and National Peanut Butter Fudge Day (yes, please).

So you’ve got a lot to choose from there.

In the weather department, we’re headed for a veritable heat wave of temperatures in the mid-to-high-40s over the next week or so, with a few days even flirting with 50! Today, though, it’s going to be cloudy and in the 30s, according to The Weather Channel, but there’s no significant rain, snow, sleet, etc. scheduled.

Phew.

Rapper Future is turning 35 today, and he shares his big day with a presidential candidate – Joe Biden, who is 76 years young. Country star Josh Turner is 41 today, and rocker Joe Walsh is 71. RFK Jr. was born on this day in 1925 and assassinated on June 6, 1968.

In the news…

Two White House national security officials testified before the House’s impeachment inquiry that President Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic rivals was inappropriate, and one of them said it validated his “worst fear” that American policy toward that country would veer off course.

A career Army officer on Trump’s National Security Council testified yesterday that he was duty-bound to object to the president’s clearly “improper” phone call seeking Ukrainian investigations of U.S. Democrats. Republicans answered him with doubts about his loyalty to the U.S.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman snapped back at ranking GOP House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Devin Nunes during the impeachment hearings for referring to him as “Mr. Vindman” rather than by his military rank.

At a public hearing today, impeachment investigators are expected to confront Gordon Sondland, a West Coast hotelier and major Republican donor, about holes and inconsistencies in his closed-door testimony last month.

Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney cleared her first hurdle to become chair – the first woman to hold that post – of the powerful House Oversight Committee, succeeding the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

A senior State Department official has resigned amid reports that she embellished her résumé with bogus academic accomplishments and created a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it.

The Navy SEAL at the center of a high-profile war crimes case has been ordered to appear before Navy leaders this morning, and is expected to be notified that the Navy intends to oust him from the elite commando force, despite being cleared by Trump, two Navy officials said.

Outgoing NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill defended stop-and-frisk as a “constitutionally tested tool” just days after one of the tactic’s biggest boosters, former Mayor Bloomberg, publicly apologized for it.

A white supremacist manifesto reportedly authored by the suspect behind the Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shooting was believed to be electronically distributed to students at Syracuse University early yesterday – the latest in a series of racist episodes to rock the campus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on SU’s board of trustees to hire an independent monitor to investigate racist activity at the school, harshly criticizing the chancellor, Kent D. Syverud, and other officials for their reaction to the crisis.

“They have not been handled in a manner that reflects this state’s aggressive opposition to such odious, reckless, reprehensible behavior,” Cuomo said. “That these actions should happen on the campus of a leading New York university makes this situation even worse.”

Meanwhile, an Antisemitic message was spotted scrawled out in footsteps on the UAlbany fountain.

Two jail guards became the first people to face charges stemming from a criminal investigation into the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who the authorities say killed himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan where he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

When it comes to filling out the 2020 Census form next year, most Capital Region households will be asked to do it on a computer or over the telephone, but some urban and rural areas that are traditionally hard to count also will get the paper form.

The state’s embattled ethics agency, JCOPE, refused to release the whistleblower complaint that prompted the state’s Inspector General to open a probe into leaks involving Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Statements given by limousine service operator Nauman Hussain to State Police and state Department of Transportation officials before and in the hours after the fatal Schoharie crash cannot be suppressed in court, a judge has ruled.

Actor Mark Ruffalo defended himself against criticism by Republican lawmakers who said his appearance at a House oversight subcommittee hearing as a witness on the dangers of PFAS chemicals was just a way to promote his new movie.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she is suing e-cigarette giant Juul Labs for marketing that allegedly targeted minors and deceived consumers into thinking its products were safer than they are.

NY-19 Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado is the subject of a fierce messaging war on cable and social media as Democrat and Republican causes play tug-of-war over his district ahead of 2020.

State Sen. Fred Akshar, a Southern Tier Republican, canceled a visit to Binghamton University Monday after political student groups clashed at the state campus during another event featuring a conservative speaker.

An unlikely alliance of environmental advocates and energy industry groups joined forces yesterday in speaking out against the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line that would carry Canadian hydropower to New York City via a cable buried below Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has released new guidance to assist schools in creating more “course access equity,” with the goal of eroding barriers to advanced and college-level coursework for students of color and other marginalized groups.

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s troubled charity, the National Action Network, has dodged scrutiny paid other nonprofits — despite paying him $1 million last year — thanks to his political clout, insiders and experts say.

It took two weeks of anticipation, but Democratic incumbent Paula Mahan will be back as supervisor of the region’s biggest town, Colonie, winning a seventh term after all ballots were counted. She edged out Republican George Scaringe by 106 ballots out of more than 20,000 cast.

After counting 47 absentee ballots at Saratoga County Board of Elections, Valerie Masterson (an independent who won on the Democratic line) has broken the Republican hold on the town, defeating three-term Republican incumbent Lisa Bruno.

A federal judge sentenced Ralph V. Signoracci IV, the former longtime campaign treasurer for ex-Cohoes Mayor Shawn M. Morse, to a year of probation for his guilty plea in March to a felony wire fraud charge.

Less than six months ago, Johnstown High School was on the verge of an entire academic year without sports. Now, the field hockey team is the second best in the state, and a community fundraising effort guaranteed every student athlete will get the chance to compete this year.

A 20-year-old student at SUNY New Paltz slipped off a cliff and plummeted 150 feet to her death while hiking with friends in Hasbrouck Park, police and school officials said.

Nope.

Lynn Kopka works to control the feral cat population throughout the Capital Region with her organization Operation Snip.

Michael Ferro, the former chairman of Tribune Publishing, is selling his 25 percent stake in the newspaper giant for $118 million to Heath Freeman’s Alden Global Capital — a New York hedge fund that has been called a destroyer of local media.

Four movies filmed regionally, including one with former “Saved by the Bell” TV actor Dustin Diamond, will be shown at the Park Theater starting at 6 p.m. tonight. All are shorts, in the 15- to 30-minute range.

Photo credit: George Fazio.