Rise and Shine: Jan. 13, 2020

Good Monday morning, CivMixers.

I hope you got outside and enjoyed some of the glorious – yet highly unsettling – unseasonably warm weather we had over the weekend. Sixty degrees in January is just not normal. It feels awfully good, don’t get me wrong. But it also feels somehow wrong to be loving the reprieve from winter so much, you know?

The temperatures were record-breaking, (almost 70 degrees in NYC), and they were accompanied by high winds that wrecked havoc across the state.

There were still about 11,000 people statewide without power as of late yesterday afternoon, most of them in Western New York. There were also scattered outages in Saratoga County.

Records for daily highs were also broken from Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh to Bangor, Maine. Buffalo, where the temperature on the same date last year never went above 20, reached 67 on Saturday. People online were debating whether this was a fabled “January thaw.” Answer: Technically, no.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a meteorological explanation for what we just saw: “The warmth was blown into the Northeast by the jet stream, the powerful atmospheric current that drives weather patterns across the continent. In the winter it usually allows cold air masses to descend from Canada, but lately it has been pushing very warm air northeastward from the Gulf of Mexico.” (See above link).

Anyway, not to worry. We’re headed back into a more normal weather pattern, and there even might be some snow in the forecast…albeit much later in the week.

For today, expect overcast skies with temperatures in the mid 40s, according to The Weather Channel.

On this day in 1898, Emile Zola published his open letter “J’accuse,” which accused the French government of framing Alfred Dreyfus for sabotage.

In 1910, the first public radio broadcast took place. It was a live performance of the operas “Cavalleria rusticana” and “Pagliacci,” which were sent out over the airwaves from the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan.

In 1928, RCA and GE installed three test television sets in homes in Schenectady, allowing American inventor E.F.W. Alexanderson to demonstrate the first home television receiver, which delivered a poor and unsteady 1.5 square inch picture.

In 1942, Henry Ford patented a plastic automobile, which was 30 percent lighter than a regular car.

In 1968, The Man in Black (AKA Johnny Cash) performed live at Folsom State Prison.

In 1990, Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor to serve in the U.S. as he took office in Richmond, Virginia. (Interestingly, that same year, the first African American president of the the Harvard Law Review was elected. His name was Barack Obama).

In 2012, the passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy and 32 people were confirmed dead due to the captain Francesco Schettino’s negligence and irresponsibility.

In 2018, a false emergency alert warning of an impending missile strike in Hawaii caused widespread panic in the state.

Actor Liam Hemsworth, who is perhaps best known in some circles as the ex-husband of Miley Cyrus, turns 30 today. He shares his birthday with: Actor Patrick Dempsey (54), actor Orlando Bloom (43), screenwriter and producer Shonda Rimes (50), actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (59), and country singer Trace Atkins (58).

The 2020 Oscar nominations are due out at 8:18 a.m.

In the news…

A top Iranian military commander made a rare public appeal for forgiveness yesterday as security forces fired on protesters and outrage over the mistaken downing of a jetliner reignited opposition on the streets and stirred dissent within the government’s conservative base.

In all, 57 of the 176 people who died in the crash of the flight leaving Tehran and bound for Ukrainewere Canadians. A number of other victims appear to have been Iranian students studying in Canada.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper explicitly said that he had seen no hard evidence that four American embassies had been under possible threat when President Donald Trump authorized the targeting of Iran’s top commander, raising questions about the scale of the threat described by Trump last week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a recent interview that Trump has been “impeached for life” regardless of how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell handles the upcoming Senate trial.

A nearly yearlong run of good will between two of the leading progressives in the 2020 presidential race, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, appears to be evaporating in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.

Judith Sheindlin, the no-nonsense TV megastar, is entering politics by campaigning for former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a Democratic 2020 contender.

Watch out world, here comes Cardi B. “I think I want to be a politician. I really love government even tho I don’t agree with government,” the rapper, born Belcalis Almánzar, wrote in the first of a series of tweets yesterday.

State senators last week received a rambling 13-page letter accusing their colleague, Bronx Democrat Sen. Luis Sepúlveda, of a series of appalling crimes ranging from child molestation to drug trafficking, which was sent from prison by the senator’s incarcerated brother. Sen. Sepulveda said in a private conference that the accusations were false.

A state Supreme Court justice has struck down New York’s ban on the sale of certain flavored electronic liquids, granting an injunction sought by the vaping industry that challenged the legality and constitutionality of an emergency order issued last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Health Department.

Cuomo’s proposal to expand Penn Station would do little to solve the New York region’s biggest transportation challenge: the deteriorating condition of the 110-year-old rail tunnels that more than 100,000 commuters rely on every weekday. That requires Trump’s approval of the long-stalled Gateway plan.

Unable to pursue justice directly, women and men on both sides of #MeToo are embracing the centuries-old tool of defamation lawsuits, opening an alternative legal battleground for accusations of sexual misconduct.

Critics of the state’s new bail rules say they create the potential for offenders – including those accused of domestic violence – to quickly return and possibly cause greater harm to their victims.

A Manhattan man was all smiles yesterday as he was freed without bail after he allegedly assaulted his own grandmother, leaving his grandparents scared and outraged that he’s back on the streets.

A bank robbery suspect released at his arraignment under New York’s bail reforms wasted no time getting back to his illegal business, police sources said Saturday.

The political fight over the state’s new bail law is roiling the early days of New York’s lawmaking session as some Democrats, who last year enacted restrictions on the use of cash bail, now say they went too far.

Brooklyn state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery sought to pass the torch Saturday to one of her colleagues in government, Assemblymember Tremaine Wright, while announcing that she would not run for re-election this year.

There’s unclaimed money awaiting Trump, Jeff Bezos, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Eliot Spitzer and billionaire Bloomberg’s firm, according to records from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger was asked if the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany may soon be forced to follow the Rochester diocese into bankruptcy as a result of sex abuse lawsuits, he said he believes bankruptcy “can have positive aspects,” but Albany (financially speaking) can “make it through another year, at least.”

Albany County is reaping the rewards of its $19.8 million renovation of the Times Union Center as a cutting-edge sport (sychronized skating) highlights the venue’s January calendar and kicks off a series of major athletic events in the Capital Region.

More than four months after the Aurora Games concluded in Albany, many participants in the all-women’s sports festival have yet to be paid for their services – including a majority of the athletes.

City of Albany police are investigating whether a shooting that wounded a 13-year-old girl on Saturday night was related to a shooting the previous night that sent a 21-year-old man to the hospital. The girl is at least the seventh person under age 18 to be shot and injured in the city within the last year.

About 15 activists set up a “solidarity encampment” yesterday afternoon in downtown Albany to raise awareness about what they view as an immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Lieutenant Col. (Dr.) William LeCates of Copperstown has been named the new New York Army National Guard state surgeon.

Police are investigating a crash in which a Troy patrol car and civilian vehicle collided at around 5:20 p.m. Saturday in the city’s Lansingburgh section.

Troy City Officials say two public meetings are scheduled to present information on possible waterfront access and gateway improvements that are included in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Schenectady Police have determined that the officer who fired at a teen fleeing the scene of a traffic stop acted lawfully.

An increasing number of elderly residents in the Adirondack region are unable to get the care they need because of a severe shortage of those willing to do the work.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for bomb-detection technology that can help spot bombs and suicide vests at busy transit hubs to be taken out of “testing limbo” and put into action.

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ car was issued yet another $50 speeding summons in July — at least its 28th since 2013 — when it was caught on camera zooming through a Brooklyn school zone. Williams currently owes the city $226.56 in fines on three outstanding speed zone tickets — including $26.56 in late fees for a July 29, 2019 school-zone violation.

Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio plans to resign this week after eight years on the job. Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, who most recently served as chair of the party’s finance committee, is the leading contender to replace him, and would be the first woman of color to lead a Democratic party organization in NYC.

In the days after a machete-wielding madman allegedly stormed a rabbi’s home and attacked five people during a Hanukkah celebration, dozens of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews in the Rockland County hamlet filed paperwork for gun permits.

New York Public Library books have been circulating among New York City homes for 125 years. Now the library system, the largest of its kind in the United States, has crunched the numbers to come up with the 10 most checked-out books in its history.

…More than half are books for children, with Brooklyn-born writer Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved “The Snowy Day” at the top of the list.

Hemp growers and entrepreneurs who were joyous a year ago after U.S. lawmakers reclassified the plant as a legal agricultural crop now are worried their businesses could be crippled if federal policymakers move ahead with draft regulations.

Harry and Meghan reportedly want to live in LA – but not until Trump is no longer in the White House.

…the couple may threaten a tell-all US TV interview to get their way at the royal summit, which is scheduled to take place today.

Late-night host Stephen Colbert has yet another outlet for satire: He’s producing a new series featuring animated characters who riff on current events and interview real newsmakers.

A group of four women lawmakers wants to legalize prostitution in Vermont. They’ve introduced a bill that would permit sex in exchange for money among consenting adults.

Kerry Kakule of Troy, and her dog Teddy, made it onto “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” They were not in the top three, but their clip was featured in the “Dog Park” segment of the show.

RIP Neil Peart, the renowned drummer and lyricist from the influential Canadian band Rush, who has died at the age of 67.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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