Good morning, CivMixers, it’s that time again – time to Rise and Shine and greet this late-November Thursday.
It’s the third Thursday of November, actually, which means it’s the Great American Smokeout – an event sponsored by the American Cancer Society that challenges smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours in hopes that they’ll be motivated to go another day smoke-free, and then another, and another, and eventually quit forever.
As the ACS says on its website:
“More than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. And more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. While the cigarette smoking rate has dropped significantly, from 42 percent in 1965 to 14 percent in 2017, the gains have been inconsistent.
Some groups of Americans suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases, including those who have less education, who live below the poverty level, or who suffer from serious psychological distress, as well as certain racial and ethnic groups, and lesbians, gays and bisexuals.”
These days, of course, people who are addicted to nicotine have a wider array of options than back in the old days of just lighting up. There’s also vaping, which has caused a lot of controversy – not to mention death – of late.
Do yourself a favor and take a step toward kicking the habit today. If you need some motivation, read this.
OK, I’m getting down from the soapbox now.
It’s going to be a pretty nice day in the Capital Region, with temperatures in the mid-40s and some sun, though skies will become increasingly overcast and there’s a chance of a few showers later this evening.
Singer Carly Rae Jepsen is celebrating her 33rd birthday today. She shares the day with: wrestler Nikki Bella (36), actress Goldie Hawn (74), former football player-turned-TV-host Michael Strahan (48), former football player Troy Aikman (53), and former baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. (50).
On the impeachment hearing schedule today: Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the NSC, and David Holmes, political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv will testify.
Hill had previously told House investigators that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton instructed her to report her concerns about Rudy Giuliani and President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to NSC lawyers.
In the headlines…
Gordon Sondland, an ambassador at the center of the House impeachment inquiry, testified yesterday that he was following President Trump’s orders, with the full knowledge of other top administration officials, when he pressured the Ukrainians to conduct investigations into Trump’s political rivals in what he called a clear “quid pro quo.”
Based on Sondland’s telling, Trump was dictating Ukraine policy through Giuliani. And Giuliani was demanding the quid pro quo: No White House visit for Ukraine’s new president until Kyiv agreed to publicly announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
The ambassador to the EU was arguably one of the most important witnesses in the House impeachment probe because of his direct communications with Trump, including a now infamous July 26 phone call from a restaurant in Kyiv where the president asked if Zelensky would commit to launching “the investigations.”
Veteran New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney was elected to lead the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, the first woman to hold the job in the panel’s 92-year history.
Eighty-eight percent of people surveyed in a new Marist poll say the testimony and evidence presented so far has altered their view about impeachment.
Federal prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed several individuals active in Trump’s fundraising machinery as part of their investigation into the associates of Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney.
Giuliani deleted and then reposted a tweet claiming he never met and rarely talked with Sondland, despite previously saying he spoke with Sondland about six times over the summer about Ukraine.
Ten Democrats took the stage in Atlanta, GA night with less than three months to go before the Iowa caucuses — and after a day of high political drama at the impeachment hearings back in Washington. Here are some key takeaways. More here.
The candidates yielded to the furor surrounding the impeachment inquiry in Washington during the debate, for the first time training their fire more steadily on President Trump than on one another and presenting a largely united front on vital issues like climate change and abortion rights.
Former Vice President Joe Biden had a cringe-worthy moment late in the primary debate when he used the words “keep punching at it” to answer a question about violence against women.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has skyrocketed to the lead in New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary polling, a new survey out yesterday reveals.
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg — likely on the verge of announcing a White House bid — announced he will spend $15 million to $20 million on a voter registration drive in battleground states to help the Democrats defeat Trump in the general election.
Americans are moving at the lowest rate since the government started keeping track, according to Census Bureau data released yesterday, as deep changes in the economy and the housing market increasingly freeze Americans in place.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed disgraced felon and ex-state Sen. Hiram Monserrate as a shameless “vampire” for mounting another bid for public office — and wished he’d just go away.
An Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed and slashed in the Rockland County town of Ramapo yesterday morning, steps away from a local synagogue, and left bleeding on the ground. The local police department said the attack was under investigation and declined to say whether they believed it was a hate crime.
Hundreds of New York State prisoners were locked in cells, denied release or removed from programs when tests erroneously showed they had used narcotics, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed in Brooklyn.
Howard Vargas, the executive counsel to state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, is the person who contacted a commissioner with the state JCOPE in January and allegedly pressed her about a meeting earlier that day in which the panel voted whether to investigate Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
…in addition, spokespeople for Cuomo and Heastie confirmed to the TU that that the lawmakers were never interviewed by the state inspector general’s office as part of its nine-month investigation of the alleged leak — raising questions about the rigor of IG probe.
Cuomo push to hire 500 more MTA police officers will likely balloon the agency’s already outrageous $1.4 billion overtime bill, critics charged.
De Blasio signed a series of bills that will overhaul the city’s embattled private hauling business by improving safety and truck traffic by reorganizing the business into zones.
A group of 39 Democratic state lawmakers — 17 senators and 22 Assembly members — have asked the commission tasked with rewriting New York’s campaign laws to establish lower contribution limits, create oversight outside of the state Board of Elections, and maintain the current system empowering minor political parties.
As Major League Baseball reportedly plans to cut ties with dozens of minor league teams, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants it to negotiate with minor league officials before making a permanent decision.
…One team on the proposed chopping block is Binghamton, New York’s Rumble Ponies — the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
A group of Syracuse University students, faculty and staff have called for several high level resignations, including Chancellor Kent Syverud.
Less than 24 hours after the governor called on the Syracuse Board of Trustees to install a monitor to investigate, the SUNY board is taking action by assembling a task force to discuss campus policies and how to respond to future incidents.
The NY Post’s Bob McManus wonders why Cuomo “has had nothing to say about the fact that a venerable economist, Arthur Laffer, was run off one of the State University’s premier campuses on the grounds that his supply-side theories are racist, or something.”
A Schoharie County woman who drove drunk, crashed and killed her friend in Rensselaerville was sentenced to three to nine years in prison as the victim’s devastated mother said she was “disgusted” with laws preventing a stiffer punishment.
Michael Mann and Pioneer Bank have agreed to settle the bank’s lawsuit against the beleaguered CEO of the former Clifton Park company MyPayrollHR.
The City of Albany could soon offer housing security for thousands of tenants after a committee voted to send a resolution that could ease the burden of rising rent across the city to a council vote on December 2.
A board member for the corporation which manages the pension for more than 1,000 former St. Clare’s Hospital workers says the state and Catholic Diocese should come together to make pensioners whole.
A medical doctor who has been struggling for a year to get a certificate of occupancy for a building and detached garage on Church Street in Saratoga Springs now wonders if he needs one at all.
A town of Queensbury man faces multiple charges after his two dogs got loose and attacked horses, State Police said.
The Village of Whitehall is facing more water troubles. The village shut off its water supply last night, and it will remain off until further notice.
The town of Bethlehem is debating changes to its public pool that involve replacing diving boards with slides, and people are up in arms.
Barely two years after reopening the Union Inn in Schenectady could lose its liquor license. The downtown bar has been cited with numerous violations by state authorities following a streak of violent incidents, including two early-morning slashings this fall.
After a count of most of the absentee ballots Tuesday, none of the unofficial winners on election night in Montgomery County have changed. But election officials have said it could be as late as Nov. 27 before official vote totals are released.
New York’s thoroughbred horsemen are trying to modernize their pay practices and come into compliance with state labor laws, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said in response to state back-pay findings against several of its members.
The countdown is on to the Troy Turkey Trot. The nation’s 12th oldest road race will draw more than 7,000 runners to the Collar City on Thanksgiving Day.
Susan Choi won the National Book Award for fiction for “Trust Exercise,” a novel set in the 1980s at a competitive performing arts school, where two students fall in love.
Photo credit: George Fazio.