Rise and Shine: Dec. 18, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers. Christmas is now just one week away.

It’s going to be a nice day, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-30s. But don’t get used to that, as the mercury is headed down into the 20s fairly soon, and will stay there for the remainder of the week, so get those down coats, hats, gloves, mufflers etc. ready.

There’s a wind chill advisory in effect for parts of the region, starting at 9 p.m. this evening, with readings as low as 20 to 25 below zero. (Yes, you read that right).

On this day in 1966, the popular Dr. Seuss’ book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was made into an animated TV special and shown for first time on CBS. Fun fact: The narrator for that show was the well-known horror movie star Boris Karloff.

A lot of famous people are celebrating birthdays today, including: Movie director Steve Speilberg (72), actor Brad Pitt (55), actress Katie Holmes (40), singer Sia (43), rocker Keith Richards (75), actress Ashley Benson (29), wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (54), actor Ray Liotta (64), and singer Christina Aguilera (38).

Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator who ruthlessly enforced Communism in the USSR from 1929 to 1953, was born on this day. He died on March 5, 1953 at the age of 74 after suffering a stroke.

President Trump will be far away from Capitol Hill today as the Democrat-controlled House prepares to impeach him in a likely party-line vote on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. He’s traveling to friendly turf in downtown Battle Creek, Mich., to host a rally that may rank among his most defiant.

Trump yesterday angrily denounced the looming House impeachment votes as a “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” by Democrats, describing the effort to remove him from office as an “attempted coup” that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year.

In an irate and rambling six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump portrayed himself as the victim of enemies determined to destroy his presidency with false accusations. (Pelosi, who said she hadn’t fully read the letter, called it “ridiculous” and “really sick”).

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell roundly rebuffed his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Charles Schumer, on bringing additional witnesses to testify at the expected trial of Trump, calling the impeachment effort “woefully, woefully inadequate” — one that cannot be saved by a “fishing expedition” in the upper chamber.

Here’s a list of where every House member stands on impeachment thus far.

In Colonie, 760 protesters signed up online to join a nationwide network of rallies yesterday organized by supporters of the impeachment of Trump. Despite messy weather, the protest was well-attended and peaceful, with no counter-protesters.

…that was not the case in Glens Falls, where a smaller protest mirrored the split nationwide between impeachment supporters and pro-Trump activists, and the anger that often spills over into public discourse.

In other news…

The House took the first step yesterday to avert a government shutdown, giving overwhelming approval to legislation that would fund all federal agencies and programs through next fall just days before federal funding is set to lapse.

With five days left for the state Legislature to act before a report overhauling campaign finance rules becomes law, the good government group Citizens Union is calling on lawmakers to toss the entire reform package.

Hudson Valley state Sen. Jen Metzger has introduced a bill that would permanently ban hydrofracking, which is currently prohibited through state regulations administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics will not launch an internal investigation into questionable practices despite an explosive whistleblower claim that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was illegally privy to a potential probe into a crooked former top aide Joe Percoco.

Rape survivor Kat Sullivan serenaded JCOPE commissioners with a rendition of Frozen’s “Let it Go,” demanding an apology from the agency that tried to force her registration as a lobbyist under the threat of thousands in fines.

The Vatican said it would abolish the high level of secrecy it has applied to sexual-abuse accusations against clerics, ending a policy that critics said had often shielded priests from criminal punishment by the secular authorities.

Teenagers are drinking less alcohol, smoking fewer cigarettes and trying fewer hard drugs, new federal survey data shows. But these public health gains have been offset by a sharp increase in vaping of marijuana and nicotine.

With the teen vaping epidemic soaring, and after this year’s vaping health crisis, the president and McConnell have become vocal supporters of a plan to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Nationally, since late last year, meth has turned up in more deaths than opioid painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. In 14 of the 35 states that report overdose deaths to the federal government on a monthly basis, meth is also involved in more deaths than fentanyl, by far the most potent opioid.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to ban single-use Styrofoam across New York, and will include a proposal to do so in his upcoming State of the State address.

Tours of a rare white deer herd on a wildlife sanctuary at a former Cold War weapons depot in the Finger Lakes Region are slated to end soon because of financial troubles, but the property owner said he’ll continue protection of the herd and look for ways to resume public access.

City of Troy police have arrested two people in connection to the fatal September shooting of a 19-year-old woman, Beyonce Wint.

The 20-year-old Schenectady man accused of beating his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son to death while he was babysitting him gave an interview to Troy and State Police after they arrested him earlier this month.

A bridge in Schodack will be closed to all traffic, starting today, after an inspection by state and county officials determined the span was deteriorating, Rensselaer County operations director Rich Crist said.

The not-for-profit operators of a financially troubled Delmar nursing home and assisted living facility have filed for bankruptcy protection as they prepare to sell the properties to a for-profit nursing home chain out of New York City.

The city of Schenectady is currently short three plow drivers, according to City Council President Ed Kosiur, which has impacted its ability to clear the streets. (Alternate side parking during storms is under consideration).

The two men indicted in the Malta murder of Gloversville resident Allyzibeth Lamont appeared in court and pleaded not guilty.

Grainy surveillance video captured the robbery and fatal stabbing of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors in Morningside Park, it emerged yesterday during a court hearing for one of her alleged murderers.

A defense lawyer for a 13-year-old boy accused in the killing of Majors last week contended that detectives had badgered and yelled at the boy during an interrogation after he was arrested.

A prominent Manhattan architect was killed by a chunk of facade that fell from a building whose owners knew for more than a year that the structure was crumbling — but did nothing to fix it.

CVS Health Corp and Omnicare fraudulently billed Medicare and other federal programs for filling expired prescriptions for the nations’ elderly and disabled, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.

Former Suffolk County DA Thomas J. Spota was found guilty of conspiracy after a trial that exposed a culture of corruption.

Beginning next year, New Yorkers who don’t identify as male or female will be allowed to select a third category on their death certificate: “X.”

A 16-year-old Bronx girl seen “kidnapped” in a video that transfixed New Yorkers and sparked an Amber alert admitted she had set up the kidnapping because of her “overprotective” mother.

More than 140 New York City elementary and middle schools had at least one grade where more than 90 percent of kids flunked their state exams last academic year, according to a NY Post analysis.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced his city is joining a federal lawsuit challenging a de Blasio administration program that pays for working-class homeless New Yorkers to move across the Hudson River.

Fulop also called for a school board member to resign over a Facebook post in which she called Jews who had moved to the city “brutes” and suggested a deeper “message” to the deadly attack at a kosher market there last week.

A federal bankruptcy judge approved two Pacific Gas & Electric settlements totaling $24.5 billion to help pay the losses suffered by homeowners, businesses and insurers in the aftermath of catastrophic Northern California wildfires that sent the nation’s largest utility into a financial morass.

FedEx said that its profit fell 40 percent in its most recent quarter, hurt by higher costs, a shorter holiday shipping season and its move to cut ties with online shopping giant Amazon.

The century-old Saratogian building at Lake and Maple Avenue in Saratoga Springs underwent a year-and-a-half long renovation to become Walt & Whitman – a new coffee shop and brewery.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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