It has been a difficult Hump Day for the state Senate Republicans who saw their eighth member – Rochester Republican state Sen. Joe Robach (actually, a former Democrat, once upon a time) – announce that he will not seek re-election in 2020.

Though the political deck seems stacked against them as New York continues its steady lean to the left and the 2020 presidential race – sure to boost turnout across the state – looms, Republicans (well, those who haven’t retired yet) are putting on a brave face.

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan insists he isn’t waving the white flag.

Some important news on the health front…the flu is on the rise in New York. Remember to wash your hands! And keep those immune systems healthy!

To that end: A dozen Capital Region hospitals implemented visitation guidelines today in an effort to reduce the spread of flu and other infectious diseases among at-risk patients.

In other news…

Greta Thunberg, 16, the soft-spoken Swedish teenager who became a global conscience for climate change and environmental activism, was named Time’s youngest “person of the year.”

An assailant involved in the prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, was linked to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which has been designated a hate group, and had published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official said.

The U.S. budget deficit rose by 2 percent last month to $209 billion, another step in a journey back toward $1 trillion-a-year budget shortfalls.

An executive order signed today that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement agreement with dozens of his alleged sexual misconduct victims – a deal that would not require the Hollywood producer to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers himself, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations.

WeWork is poised to lay off 400 New York employees in late February.

A new book by former state Sen. John DeFrancisco reveals plenty about the inner workings of state government and the Republican conference, but is also a guidebook for prospective politicians.

Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec announced he will run for the state Senate for the North Country seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Betty Little.

Upstate rural farmers will have a shot at cultivating marijuana if it’s legalized in New York state, state Sen. Jen Metzger says.

A tractor-trailer rolled over on the Dunn Memorial Bridge this morning, closing all lanes of traffic to the Rensselaer-side of the bridge, police said.

A man was shot and killed by a State Trooper after he attacked the trooper with a hatchet in Piseco Lake in the Central Adirondacks. The incident occurred as troopers tried to take the man to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Nauman Hussain, the limousine company operator accused of allowing a limo on the road despite mechanical flaws that police and prosecutors say caused it to crash last year, killing 20 people, was in court for a pre-trial conference.

A Western New York town justice has resigned while being investigated for numerous transgressions, including calling Cuomo “corrupt” in a letter sent to a local newspaper.

Disbarred attorney Thomas Lagan was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison today for his role in the nearly $12 million plundering of his elderly clients, including prominent Capital Region philanthropists Warren and Pauline Bruggeman.

The NYPD has formed a new unit within the department’s intelligence bureau, known as “Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism,” or “R.E.M.E.” primarily dedicated to investigating terror threats from far-right and neo-Nazi organizations, including groups like the Atomwaffen Division and The Proud Boys.

The Government Justice Center, a conservative good government group, is suing to stop a salary hike that would make Gov. Cuomo the highest-paid governor in the nation.

Approximately 90 percent of New York residents cannot afford quality child care, according to a report released by the Empire Justice Center.

A Quebec-based truck driver who told border patrol officers he was transporting furniture from Canada to Pennsylvania was found carrying more than 166 kilograms of cocaine hidden in bricks in a secret compartment, federal authorities said.

The city of Albany’s Community Police Advisory Committee will take a more focused approach to try to handle its most critical topics.

The House is expected to pass a major defense bill today, but some Democrats planned to vote against it in protest over several provisions regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that were stripped from the final legislation.

Google released its list of top trending searches for 2019 which included Disney Plus, Luke Perry, Jussie Smollett, Avengers Endgame, Antonio Brown, Game of Thrones, Cameron Boyce, Hurricane Dorian and Nipsey Hussle both nationally and in N.Y.

Photo credit: George Fazio.