Rise and Shine: Dec. 26, 2019

Happy Thursday, AKA the day-after-Christmas, AKA Boxing Day, CivMix family!

First, I hope your holiday was everything you wished for – and more.

Second, I hope you’re off from work still and not up reading this at the crack of dawn…maybe even lounging on a beach somewhere, or on a fabulous skiing vacation in Lake Placid, or Tahoe, or the Alps.

Third, if you ARE joining me bright and early this morning, please know how thankful I am to have you with me. Merry and happy everything!

So, back to Boxing Day. It’s mainly a British holiday.

Here’s some background: “The day after Christmas is traditionally the day for employers to give a gift, a Christmas box, to their employees.” Also this: “A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.”

In the U.S., it’s a day for those who weren’t thrilled with the gifts they received to hit the stores to do a little returning – or (MORE!) shopping of the post-Christmas sales, which are already underway.

On this day in 1966, the first Kwanza celebrations were held. Explanation: “The week-long cultural holiday is celebrated among African diaspora in the U.S. and was created by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies and a key figure in the Black Power movement. The holiday is celebrated annually from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, and it is a recognition of African culture and heritage.”

Happy Birthday to author David Sedaris, who is turning 63 today. Also celebrating another trip around the sun: Rapper Prodigy (23), actor Kit Harrington (33), rocker Chris Daughtry (40), drummer Lars Ulrich (56), and fashion designer Alexander Wang (36).

Born today but no longer with us: Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, most famous for playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street from its inception in 1969 until 2018, who died just this past year; and Mao Tse Tung, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. He died in 1976.

It’s going to be another oddly warm late December day, with temperatures reaching into the low 40s. We’ll have clouds all day long, with showers starting after midnight and lasting until tomorrow, when it will again be in the 40s, according to The Weather Channel.

In the news…

Pope Francis offered a Christmas message of hope against darkness that cloaks conflicts and relationships in large parts of the world from the Middle East to the Americas to Africa.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended a music-filled Christmas Eve service at a Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated church in Palm Beach, FL before celebrating the holiday with dinner in the ballroom of his private club.

The remains of a 33-year-old American soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble of Washington Township, New Jersey, have been returned to the United States, arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Hundreds of helping hands made sure everyone had a Merry Christmas by volunteering at the Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany. Over 3500 meals were served, both dine-in and take-out, to people in the community from all walks of life.

Gary Dake, the president of Stewart’s Shops, spent Christmas Eve morning working at the Arbor Hill Stewart’s, meeting customers, selling coffee and remembering past employees with their parents.

At a time when germs are growing more resistant to common antibiotics, many companies that are developing new versions of the drugs are hemorrhaging money and going out of business, gravely undermining efforts to contain the spread of deadly, drug-resistant bacteria.

Prosecutors say California attorney Michael Avenatti was over $15 million in debt when he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike, while Avenatti’s lawyers say the money he legally requested to conduct an internal probe of the sportswear giant was a bargain.

Office towers in New York and San Francisco — centers of political resistance — are offsetting revenue downturns in the president’s glitzier Trump-branded hotels.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed a state hate crimes task force to investigate the assault this week of an Orthodox Jewish man in Manhattan — the latest in a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the area.

An 18-year-old Amherst man is charged with a felony hate crime after prosecutors say he repeatedly harassed a Jewish victim by phone over a period of months.

Cuomo announced new regulations to reduce emissions in peak-use power plants. The changes will lower the threshold for nitrogen oxide emissions which contribute to dangerous levels of smog and will be phased in from 2023-2025 to give time for peak-use power plants to find cleaner energy sources.

The governor has vetoed a bill that would have required that public transportation workers be formally trained to spot signs of human trafficking.

Cuomo also rejected a bill would have required the state Public Service Commission to study the feasibility of a municipal broadband program in New York.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrapped up his 21st annual tour of all 62 counties in New York on Monday with stops in Fulton and Washington counties.

In 2017, New York was positioning itself to be a leader in the autonomous vehicle space, but so far that effort has been a bust, and auto industry executives say a half-dozen or so other states have surpassed the Empire State in the race to embrace the industry.

Cohoes Mayor-elect Bill Keeler plans to appoint former Albany County Assistant District Attorney Eric M. Galarneau to fill the city court judgeship vacated by Andra Ackerman’s recent election to Albany County Court.

Police are investigating a wild Christmas Eve brawl at The Beef Jerky Outlet store at Crossgates Mall — one that’s gone viral. A dispatcher with the department said on Christmas Day that police had not made any arrests.

Edward J. Agrusti was dressed in a Santa costume and working as a bell-ringer collecting funds for the Salvation Army outside the Price Chopper/Market Bistro on Route 9 when he was arrested on Christmas Eve on an outstanding warrant for his arrest for allegedly patronizing a prostitute in January 2018.

A vicious collision with a utility pole along Central Avenue on Christmas morning killed a Schenectady man and critically injured the car’s three other occupants, town police said. The impact was so strong it split the Audi sedan in two, sending the halves about 50 feet away from each other.

…Police have identified the victim who was killed as 24-year-old Lakhraj Premnauth of Schenectady. Two 17-year-old teens and a 21-year-old are at Albany Medical Center with serious injuries.

Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady continues to outperform the state’s three other commercial gaming facilities — growing the most in percentage of overall revenue compared with last year.

Schenectady police say they are investigating a suspicious death in the area of 760 State Street.

A year after SUNY Poly’s founding president, Alain Kaloyeros, who was known for high-profile and flashy expansion efforts, was sentenced to federal prison following his conviction in a bid-rigging scandal, the school’s new top official, Doug Grose, says he is aiming for stable and steady operations.

A recent survey of New York health providers reveals some are still frustrated by insurance protocols that block or delay them from prescribing preferred treatments to patients — despite new laws designed to prevent just that.

There’s a battle taking place over the landmarking of the poet Walt Whitman’s former home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

The clock is ticking on a controversial plan to save a popular West Side park in Manhattan by redeveloping it with office space that could generate an estimated $12.5 million in annual rental income.

Graffiti is on the express track back into New York’s subway landscape, according to MTA data.

When the nation’s largest city – the Big Apple – cleans out its closets, it takes a massive year-round operation, including public auctions, to get rid of it.

A bipartisan group of NYC lawmakers is pushing Albany to approve tweaks to the state tax laws that would allow them to hit new homebuyers with tax bills based on the actual market prices of their properties.

RIP Edward Aschoff, an ESPN college football reporter known for his lively blog posts and thoughtfully reported features, who died on Tuesday after a brief battle with pneumonia, the network reported. It was his 34th birthday.

Ari Behn, a former member of Norway’s royal family who was one of Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault accusers, died by suicide yesterday, his manager said. He was 47.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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