Rise and Shine: Jan. 2, 2020

Happy New Year, CivMixers!

It’s the first “Rise and Shine” of 2020. If you’re back to work (like me), there’s a bit of an easing back into things as this is mercifully a short week – just two days, thanks to the way the holidays fell on the calendar this year.

It looks like we’re in for some nasty weather in the not-too-distant future. But since it’s healthier to focus on the present – and we’re all about healthy now that it’s January and a brand new year – today will bring a mix of clouds and sun with temperatures in the mid-40s, according to The Weather Channel. Not too shabby.

On this day in 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 1839, Louis Daguerre (inventor of the first publicly available photographic process known as the “daguerreotype”) took the first-ever photo of the moon. In 1906, Willis Carrier received a US patent for the world’s first air conditioner. And in 1960, U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, announces his candidacy for the White House.

Actor Dax Shepard is celebrating his 44th birthday today. He shares the day with: Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (51), actor Taye Diggs (48), actress Kate Bosworth (36), actress Tia Carrere (53), model Christy Turlington (51), and actress Paz Vega (44).

In the news…

The top state Assembly Republican, Minority Leader Brian Kolb, was busted for drunk driving on New Year’s Eve — just a week after publishing an op-ed warning against the perils of getting behind the wheel under the influence.

Kolb released a statement acknowledging and apologizing for the incident, in which he crashed his taxpayer-funded car, saying: “Last night, I was charged with driving under the influence near my home. This was a terrible lapse in judgment, one I have urged others not to make, and I take full responsibility for it.”

Kolb was taken into custody after the 10:27 p.m. single-vehicle crash and charged with DWI at the county jail, deputies said. There were no injuries, the sheriff’s office said. It was unclear if any passengers were in the SUV when it crashed.

News of Kolb’s arrest prompted at least one Assembly colleague and fellow Republican Kieran Michael Lalor to call for him to step down from his Assembly post.

A spokesman for Kolb declined to elaborate on the minority leader’s statement or to comment on Lalor’s call for the legislator’s resignation as minority leader.

After a second day of tense protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, thousands of pro-Iranian demonstrators dispersed yesterday, ending a siege that had trapped U.S. diplomats in the embassy compound overnight and winding down a potentially explosive crisis for the Trump administration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a weeklong trip to Ukraine and four other nations to stay in Washington and monitor tensions in Iraq after protesters broke into the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad and wrecked parts of it, the State Department said.

An Orthodox Jewish man hacked viciously by a machete-swinging anti-Semite will likely remain brain-damaged and paralyzed for life — even if he somehow regains consciousness, his heartbroken family said while releasing a grisly photo of the victim, Josef Neumann, 71, in his hospital bed.

The man accused of using a machete to hack five Orthodox Jews at a Hanukkah party, Grafton Thomas, had Jewish friends while growing up — and even did Sabbath chores for them, according to his mother.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent New Year’s Day in Williamsburg to show solidarity with the Jewish Community amid a spate of at least 13 anti-Semitic attacks in New York City and last weekend’s knife attack in Rockland County, and also announced he will boost the number of state police in all Orthodox communities across the state.

Tens of thousands of Jewish people congregated yesterday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to celebrate the reading of the entire Talmud in an event called Siyum HaShas — and drew a heavy security presence after recent anti-Semitic attacks in the area.

FBI hate crime statistics show that incidents in churches, synagogues, temples and mosques increased 34.8 percent between 2014 and 2018, the last year for which FBI data is available.

Two female attackers yelled “F— you Jew” and “I will kill you Jews” at a Brooklyn man before shoving him to the ground when he tried to film their anti-Semitic screed, law enforcement sources and witnesses said.

The Brooklyn woman arrested three times in the span of five days — getting released twice without bail thanks to new criminal-justice reforms — was ordered held for a psychiatric evaluation yesterday following her latest bust.

The state Health Department proposed slashing Medicaid payments by 1 percent starting yesterday, as it faces its largest budget gap since the Great Recession. The cut is expected to save $124 million in “gross Medicaid expenditures” in the final quarter of the current fiscal year, and $496 million in each subsequent year.

A federal court judge this week issued a temporary restraining order delaying the implementation of aspects of a new labor law affecting farms in New York.

Cuomo killed legislation late New Year’s Eve that would have allowed the redevelopment of Pier 40, a 15-acre pier part of the five-mile Hudson River Park on the West Side of Manhattan.

Restaurant workers aren’t included in a recent order from the state Department of Labor that will eliminate the so-called sub-minimum wage for “miscellaneous” industries statewide over the next year and will impact more than 70,000 New Yorkers.

A proposal by Assemblyman Harvey Epstein would raise the excise tax imposed on beer distributors from $0.14 per gallon to $0.30 per gallon– the same as the state’s wine tax.

An elderly woman was struck by a Jeep and killed while crossing a Queens street last night – NYC’s first pedestrian fatality of 2020.

More cyclists were killed last year on NYC streets than in any year in two decades. Safety groups are calling on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to strengthen his efforts.

In a grim start to the New Year, authorities reported a pair of fatal shootings yesterday, one in the Bronx, the other in Manhattan.

State education officials are trying to answer the question of why public schools and teaching colleges consistently struggle to recruit and retain teachers of color, recently releasing a comprehensive study on the issue.

Cuomo will become the nation’s highest paid governor thanks to a pay raise approved by lawmakers as part of the new state budget.

For residents of a small Schodack neighborhood off Route 9, life next door to a massive Amazon warehouse is rapidly becoming reality.

Arson investigators are searching for clues after a fire late Tuesday caused damage at STS Steel, the metal fabrication company located along Erie Boulevard in Schenectady.

Several homeowners along a Schenectady street who recently had sidewalks installed under a fledgling city-run program seem to have buyer’s remorse after they receive higher-than-expected bills for recent repairs made by the city.

Cohoes Mayor Mayor Bill Keeler was sworn in and fellow city leaders said his new administration would be a welcome change after former mayor Shawn Morse was forced from office after pleading guilty to a federal crime.

Republican Michael Stammel was officially sworn in as mayor of the city of Rensselaer on New Year’s Day. Stammel is also chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature and will continue in both roles.

The city of Troy’s Revolutionary War monument bears the wrong date for British General John Burgoyne’s Battle of Saratoga surrender.

The Clean Air Coalition gathered outside the Albany County Courthouse to ask legislators to support the Clean Air Law, and County Executive Dan McCoy to issue a moratorium on tire burning in Albany County.

The owners of Ring Around the Spectrum, a sensory gym in Latham that is geared towards children with autism and developmental delays, will close at the end of January.

De Blasio was angered by a NY Post report about a Domino’s pizzeria in Midtown that sold pies for $30 apiece to penned-in New Year’s Eve revelers in Times Square.

The MTA’s $51.5 billion capital plan was approved without oversight from the city after Cuomo refused to convene a review panel amid a spat with de Blasio.

The number of people who died in fires in New York City dropped by 25 percent in 2019 — with 66 people killed by blazes compared to 88 in 2018, FDNY officials announced.

Ex-NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw said he and his wife were “very, very fortunate” to escape a blaze yesterday morning in their Upper East Side building — and had nothing but praise for the FDNY for putting it out.

The first ban on sunscreen around coral reefs went into effect yesterday, with enactment of Palau’s Responsible Tourism Education Act of 2018.

Food labels showing American consumers how many calories per serving and how many overall calories their food contains are the law of the land as of yesterday.

President Donald Trump said the federal government will soon announce a new strategy to tackle underage vaping, promising: “We’re going to protect our families, we’re going to protect our children, and we’re going to protect the industry,” though he was vague about details of the plan.

It does not appear that Tiffany Trump is engaged after all.

Pope Francis apologized for the flash of anger — or self-protection — that he exhibited while greeting the faithful around the Vatican’s giant Nativity scene after a New Year’s Eve liturgy the evening before.

Charlize Theron, Octavia Spencer and Daniel Craig are among the first presenters announced for Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards.

RIP David Stern, who spent 30 years as the NBA’s longest-serving commissioner and one of the best in sports history, and died yesterday at the age of 77.

RIP Don Larsen, an otherwise ordinary pitcher who achieved the extraordinary when he threw the only perfect game in World Series history, who died yesterday in Hayden Lake, Idaho at the age of 90.

RIP Nick Gordon, 30, the ex-fiancé of the late Bobbi Kristina Brown, who reportedly died of a suspected overdose on New Year’s Day in Florida.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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