While You Were Out: Dec. 20, 2019

Four more shopping days until Christmas, CivMixers! I hope you survived the deep freeze. We’re heading into the balmy 30s tomorrow – a veritable heat wave.

In the news…

After more than three years of anguished national debate, multiple cliff-hanging votes, and two general elections, Britain’s Parliament voted by a wide margin on today to advance Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, paving the way for the country to leave the European Union next month.

President Trump headed south to sunny Florida today after his historic impeachment, while plans for his speedy trial back in Washington remained clouded. Senate leaders jockeying for leverage failed to agree on procedures and perhaps new witnesses for the trial.

Retiring GOP Rep. Mark Meadows has emerged as a leading candidate to replace acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders apologized after she mocked comments by former Vice President Joe Biden during the Democratic presidential debate in which he recounted mentoring a boy who had a speech impediment.

When Christianity Today called for Trump’s removal in a blistering editorial yesterday, it met the full force and fury of the president and his most prominent allies in the Christian conservative world.

Health officials now blame vitamin E acetate for the “vast majority” of cases in the U.S. outbreak of vaping illnesses and they say doctors should monitor patients more closely after they go home from the hospital.

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will be national political chair of billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign, Nutter said – a prominent addition to the growing network of mayors who support Bloomberg’s late entry into the Democratic race.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the state to crack down on retailers who illegally sell out-of-state, untaxed cigarettes, proposing a measure that could effectively ban tobacco sales by these businesses.

State Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of more than a dozen attorneys general announced a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over a rollback of clean water regulations.

Citing its failure to address climate change, Capital Region Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko joined a small group of progressive House Democrats who opposed passage of the new North American trade deal negotiated between Democrats and the White House.

Even as a New York City investigation has refocused concerns that some ultra-Orthodox yeshivas do not meet educational standards, the state is putting off possible action on proposed rules for aggressively monitoring private schools.

Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy announced plans to introduce legislation calling for the state DOT to conduct an engineering feasibility study that would assess the replacement or modification of I-787 to provide “greater access to Albany’s waterfront and revitalize working class communities located along its route.”

Candidates seeking the endorsement of the Working Families Party in 2020 are being asked if they are willing to stop talking about taxpayers and taxes.

A huge spending package passed by Congress this week contains over $350 million for cleaning up contamination across the country from toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS (for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

The Albany Convention Center Authority announced this week that Cuomo appointed Joseph Rabito, his executive deputy secretary, to the authority’s board.

Trump has officially declared a major disaster declaration for the state of New York, which will release federal funds to help communities in the North Country recover from the severe Halloween storm that caused massive damages from high winds and flooding.

The nonprofit Adirondack Explorer and the Times Union will expand their existing partnership with the Explorer’s addition of Gwendolyn Craig as its new environmental policy reporter focusing on state government’s interaction with the forest preserve.

A Selkirk man who worked as a school lifeguard was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor and a drug offense after he allegedly gave a 14-year-old girl marijuana that sickened her at school, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

Fire consumed Tom and Jerry’s Car Wash on Second Avenue this morning, sending a column of smoke rising above the town and neighboring Watervliet as flames tore through the bays.

An Albany man pleaded guilty to stealing Apple iPhones, gold coins, small gold bars and other items from mailed packages while a postal clerk, federal authorities said.

The SI Group is moving from its campus in Niskayuna to the Golub Corporation’s headquarters a few miles away on Nott Street, the company announced, ending speculation over where the chemical manufacturer would end up after disclosing earlier this year that it was looking for a new home.

One of the suspects in the killing of a 19-year-old woman in Troy appeared today in Rensselaer County court.

The NYPD released photos of a teen wanted for questioning in connection to the vicious knife slaying of Barnard College student Tessa Majors.

Authorities dealt a staggering blow to Long Island’s murderous MS-13 gang — busting 96 members and associates in the largest takedown of the notorious criminal group in New York state history, prosecutors announced.

A Long Island lawyer with a taste for “food fraud” lawsuits is challenging the authenticity of vanilla-flavored almond milk sold at Price Chopper supermarkets.

After almost half a century, the Union College Concert Series is now called Capital Region Classical.

Drita D’Avanzo, 43 — wife of reputed mobster Lee D’Avanzo, 50 – was arrested along with her husband in a police raid on their home on Staten Island, during which officers seized two loaded handguns from the house, along with more than a pound of marijuana and modest amounts of hydrocodone and Xanax pills.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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