Rise and Shine: Jan. 16, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers. It’s Thursday, which means we’re one day away from the weekend.

It’s also National Nothing Day. Yeah, you read that right. Wikipedia tells us it’s “an ‘un-event’ proposed in 1972 by columnist Harold Pullman Coffin and observed annually on January 16 since 1973,” the purpose of which is to give Americans “one day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing or honoring anything.”

Now, I had never heard of Pullman Coffin, but apparently this was his big claim to fame. He was a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, and died in 1981.

Given how overbooked we all are these days, rushing madly from one thing to another while staring at our handheld devices, there might be something to this. Doing nothing is an art, and scientists actually say it’s good for us – from time to time – to just BE.

Actually, most of the time, they tell us we should be meditating during this “nothing” time, which helps quiet the brain, but meditation is often referred to as a “practice,” which, technically speaking, isn’t doing nothing.

Anyway, for those of you are are fans of the whole “celebrate something every day” thing, today is National Fig Newton Day, National Religious Freedom Day, National Get to Know Your Customers Day (this is observed the third Thursday of each quarter) AND National Without a Scalpel Day. (That last one recognizes the ability to treat diseases using minimally invasive, image-guided procedures like angioplasty).

Go ahead and pick your poison.

Also, it can’t possibly be a day of nothing for actor, writer and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda, of “In the Heights” and “Hamilton” fame, because he’s turning the big 4-0 today. He shares his day with model Kate Moss (46); singer FKA Twigs (32); football player Joe Flacco (35); actress, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen (70); R7B singer Sade (61); and filmmaker (sometimes referred to as the “Master of Horror”) John Carpenter (72).

Singer Aaliyah, who has been credited for helping to redefine contemporary R&B, pop and hip hop, earning her the nicknames the “Princess of R&B” and “Queen of Urban Pop,” was born on this day in 1979. She and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the single “Rock the Boat” back in August 2001. Her music has continued to succeed long after her death.

On this day in 1493, Christopher Columbus left the New World and set sail back home to Spain.

In 1777, Vermont declared independence from neighboring New York.

In 1879, a January record of 13 inches of snow fell in New York City – a record broken Jan. 7, 1996.

In 1883, the Pendleton Act created the basis for the US Civil Service system.

In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, authorizing the prohibition of alcohol, was ratified by a majority of US states. (Prohibition ended in 1933 with the passage of the 21st Amendment).

In 1970, four months after leading a coup against monarchy, Muammar Gaddafi took over rule of Libya.

Also in 1970, inaugural Buffalo Sabres owners Seymour H. Knox III and Northrup Knox hired former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager and head coach Punch Imlach in the same capacities for their new NHL franchise.

In 1974, “Jaws” by Peter Benchley was published by Doubleday.

In 1980, Paul McCartney was arrested at Tokyo International Airport for possession of marijuana, and was sent to jail for nine days before being deported. He and his wife, Linda, were arrested four years later in Barbados – again for possession of cannabis.

There have been some periods of rain and snow this evening, which are expected to taper off to flurries and/or showers later in the day. It will be mostly cloudy and windy with a high of around 40 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.

In the headlines…

In a ceremonial walk through the halls of Congress, the House sent the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate, officially kicking off that chambers’ role in trying President Donald Trump for alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The proceedings commencing today will play out in a Capitol already rived by politics during a contentious election year. Among the senators who will be sitting in judgment of Trump will be four Democrats who are running for president, juggling their campaigns to defeat him with their duties as jurors.

Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, says he delivered an ultimatum in May to the incoming president of Ukraine that no senior U.S. officials would attend his inauguration and all American aid to the war-torn country would be withheld if an investigation into former VP Joe Biden wasn’t announced.

…Parnas asserted for the first time in public that the president was fully aware of the efforts to dig up damaging information on his behalf.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened Trump’s request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” to coded mob lingo by invoking the new Martin Scorsese flick “The Irishman.”

Trump signed an initial trade deal with China, bringing the first chapter of a protracted and economically damaging fight with one of the world’s largest economies to a close.

The Transportation Security Administration said a record high of 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags or on passengers at airport checkpoints across the country last year, averaging over 12 firearms a day.

The past decade was the hottest on record, government researchers announced – the latest sign of global warming’s grip on the planet. And 2019 was the second-warmest year ever, they said, just shy of the record set in 2016.

Elizabeth Warren accused her fellow U.S. senator and 2020 Democratic contender Bernie Sanders of calling her a “liar on national TV” in the tense exchange between the two progressive candidates after this week’s debate, according to audio unearthed by CNN.

The rupture between Sanders and Warren, which has already angered their supporters, could heighten Democratic anxieties and inject negativity into the race in Iowa, where Democrats had a history of rewarding positive behavior from presidential candidates.

As the state Legislature grapples with whether it should amend new bail reforms, a refrain among critics is that under the new rules, judges lack “judicial discretion” to determine if certain defendants should have bail set.

The mother of a Syracuse homicide victim stood next to state Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay at the state Capitol yesterday to decry the state’s recently enacted bail reform.

“This is unacceptable. My daughter’s killer is walking the streets as my family and I continue to pick up the pieces from the trauma,” Jennifer Payne said. The man accused of shooting and killing Payne’s daughter Sarah Tombs is out of jail after being released last week.

Sheila Harris broke down in tears while recounting the death of her cousin in a hit-and-run blamed on a driver who got to celebrate the Christmas holiday at home — thanks to the state’s controversial bail-reform law.

The Watervliet Police Department held a forum last night to answer questions and discuss with the community the impacts of the new criminal justice reform laws.

A judge and a prosecutor appear to have erred when they said Jordan Randolph, the Bellport, LI man charged with drunken driving in a fatal crash on the William Floyd Parkway last weekend, couldn’t be detained because of the state’s new bail law, state officials and legal experts said.

Advocates of ending cash bail in most cases are pushing back, saying the law was well thought out and shouldn’t be hastily changed.

The jobs of more than five members of a special unit at the state Board of Elections are being eliminated in a move that the Public Employees Federation said is a continuing trend to “erode” civil service positions in state government.

Harvey Weinstein‘s lawyers plan to file an 11th-hour motion today asking an appeals court to move his trial out of New York, citing a laundry list of concerns including negative publicity from prospective juror Gigi Hadid.

Numbers released by the state Department of Taxation and Finance show the embattled taxi mogul Gene Friedman, whose real name is Evgeny Freidman, leads the list of the state’s top 250 delinquent taxpayers, owing more than $18.6 million.

The one-time aide to former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos has been named New York state’s No. 2 most delinquent taxpayer, public records show.

Albany is among 10 municipalities across the state to receive grant funding from the AG’s office for “innovative programs” related to housing and code enforcement.

A man found dead in a Schenectady parking lot on Christmas Day 2019 was intentionally struck by a driver who immediately fled the country but was apprehended yesterday, city police said.

Developers of what would be a 700-acre, $135 million solar farm in Canajoharie made their case before residents of this Montgomery County community, although the final decision is ultimately up to a special panel made up largely of state agency heads.

For the fifth straight year, a veteran police sergeant, who also serves as the department spokesman, made the most money in Schenectady ($205,383) in another epic year of compensation.

Troy City Council Republicans are bringing back their motion to appoint five marshals, that would keep a key GOP operative in the office while allowing Democrats to keep a councilwoman’s husband as a marshal.

Authorities are searching for two suspects who wielded crowbars in robberies that appear to be related, Colonie Police said.

A Columbia County jury found a 76-year-old man guilty of charges he used the help of another person to set fire to his house in an attempt to collect on an insurance policy over $1 million, District Attorney Paul Czajka said.

A former Rotterdam cop who also had a stint as a sheriff’s deputy faces jail time after being convicted of assault in connection to a 2018 domestic dispute with his girlfriend, according to attorneys involved with the criminal case.

The Board of Directors of YWCA of the Greater Capital Region has named Starletta Smith as the organization’s new executive director.

The Albany Police Department is focusing a greater part of its resources on speeding drivers throughout the city in the restructuring of its Neighborhood Engagement Unit.

The alleged anti-Semitic maniac who attacked a Hanukkah party in Monsey last month had numerous run-ins with police in his native Greenwood Lake — for incidents ranging from an alleged rape, assault and a marijuana bust, police documents obtained by The NY Post show.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez marveled that she, The NY Post and the NY Daily News are of the same mind on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to build a $2 billion AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was reviled for digging into a slice of pizza with a knife and fork, stepped into another culinary catastrophe when he decided to weigh in on National Bagel Day, revealing on Twitter that he likes his bagel toasted.

…de Blasio quickly deleted the post, and added a corrected version that removed all mention of the word toast.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads all contenders in raising campaign cash for the 2021 mayoral race, exceeding Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who are banking on closing the gap through the city’s public matching funds program.

The developer of Hudson Yards has backed off a plan that would have put a giant wall next to the High Line.

The Rockefeller Center ice rink isn’t going away, but the plaza could see major changes in a proposal filed with New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

A high-level New York City panel appointed by de Blasio and other officials intends to propose a bailout for thousands of taxi drivers trapped in exploitative loans that could cost as much as $500 million, several panel members said.

For the past few years, the Tri-City ValleyCats could take pride in being an affiliate of the Houston Astros, one of baseball’s dominant franchises and a World Series champion in 2017. Now the ValleyCats find themselves connected to a franchise that’s in the middle of the game’s cheating scandal.

Former ESPN reporter Edward Aschoff had an aggressive form of cancer when he died on Christmas Eve, his fiancée revealed.

Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail, says Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren’t welcome to live in the famously friendly country because it’s unconstitutional.

Bruce Springsteen’s youngest son, Sam Springsteen, was sworn in as a Jersey City firefighter this week.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2020 inductees: Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G., and T-Rex will be joining rock-n-roll’s exclusive club.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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