Good Monday morning, CivMixers.
We start out on a somber note.
First, it’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day – a day established by the United Nations in 2005 to commemorate and honor the victims of the genocide committed by the Nazis during WW II – including 6 million Jews.
Interestingly, The UN declaration document also honors the “courage and dedication” shown by the soldiers who liberated the Nazi death camps at the end of the war, and “rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part.”
It also “condemns without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur.” A message worth repeating, given the surge in hate crimes we have seen both in New York and nationally.
It’s also the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the World War II Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Poland to attend the official commemoration event.
Amid a surge of anti-Semitism and a rise in dehumanizing political rhetoric, there is fear that the horrific lessons of the death camp are being lost.
In more sad news, the nation is reeling over the death of Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old NBA MVP who had a 20-year career with the Lakers, who was killed yesterday when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed and burst into flames in the hills above Calabasas.
Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, was also on board and died along with seven others.
The news, first reported by TMZ, was met with disbelief. But as confirmation came from news outlet after news outlet, the devastating reality began to sink in.
Conditions were extremely foggy when the NBA great’s helicopter went down northwest of Los Angeles on a hillside in the city of Calabasas. The local sheriff told a press conference that debris is scattered over an area the size of a football field. Recovery of all the remains could take several days.
The LAPD said weather conditions did not meet their “standard for flying” at the time Bryan’s helicopter went down.
NYC subway riders found a creative way to pay tribute to Bryant with a makeshift sign at the Bryant Park subway station
A surreal only-in-L.A. moment unfolded at L.A. Live, where thousands of fans gathered to mourn Bryant while music’s elite filed into the Grammy Awards at Staples Center.
The night also tugged on the heartstrings with a soulful tribute to Nipsey Hussle and moving performances from Camila Cabello and Demi Lovato.
A happier headline from the Grammys: Newcomer Billie Eilish swept the four major categories – album, record and song of the year, as well as best new artist – for the first time since Christopher Cross in 1981.
Eilish, 18, is the youngest album of the year winner in Grammy history, easily topping Taylor Swift, who was 20 when she won a decade ago for Fearless. She’s also the youngest record of the year winner in Grammy history.
If you need a little comforting after all these headlines…consider this: It’s National Chocolate Cake Day. Also, if you’re planning on being at the state Capitol, you might want to get there early, as busloads of climate change advocates are headed into town for a day of action.
It will be cloudy today, with temperatures heading into the low 40s, according to The Weather Channel.
Musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this day in 1756. He died at his home in Vienna, Austria at the age of 35, and the cause of his death has been the subject of much debate.
Still with us and celebrating birthdays today: Model Daisy Lowe (31), actress Rosamund Pike (41) and actor Alan Cummings (55).
In the headlines…
China extended its Lunar New Year holiday three more days to discourage people from traveling as it tries to contain the spread of a viral illness that has caused 80 deaths, the government said.
Chinese officials revealed that patients infected with the coronavirus can spread the deadly illness before experiencing any symptoms — prompting fears about how to contain the disease.
Amid news the coronavirus is spreading at an accelerating rate, concern is growing that China’s lockdown of cities may not only have come too late but could even make the situation worse.
Many airlines are accommodating travelers who want to modify, delay or cancel their itineraries to China.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged federal officials to declare coronavirus a public health emergency in the US, so millions more in funds could be made available to fight the deadly bug.
The U.S. has five confirmed cases of the new virus from China, all among people who traveled to the city at the center of the outbreak, health officials said.
Over the weekend, the number of people who have been tested for the Wuhan coronavirus in New York state went from four to seven. Three cases were found to be negative, but four will still pending as of yesterday afternoon.
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.
A secret recording of a 2018 dinner showed that the president spent an hour with two key players in the Ukraine pressure campaign, though he has repeatedly said he does not know them. Trump can be heard saying “get rid of her,” regarding the ambassador to Kyiv at the time, Marie L. Yovanovitch.
New York Rep. Jerry Nadler said that he would miss part of the Senate impeachment trial of Trump to be with his wife, Joyce Miller, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The Des Moines Register endorsed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren ahead of next week caucuses.
Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, said that he will no longer seek public office, and hoped to spend more time with his family. He was the top Latino candidate in the 2021 mayor’s race.
Many health care firms looking to erect new medical facilities face a fat tax hike under Cuomo’s $178-billion budget plan.
Joint legislative hearings on Cuomo’s proposed budget start today.
Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs has received his party’s nomination for the NY-27 seat vacated by ex-Rep. Chris Collins.
State Sen. Jen Metzger and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson have reintroduced their bill from last year that would allow part-time and vocational students at New York’s public colleges to seek Excelsior scholarships, also known as the state’s “free tuition” program.
If you are looking for data and analysis on the state’s new bail reforms, you will have to hold out for individual counties to provide that information or for private institutions to weigh in.
E. J. McMahon, research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy, gave his perspective on Cuomo’s proposed budget, the state’s population loss, Medicaid and taxes at the start of the 53rd state Conservative Party conference in Latham yesterday.
Environmental groups are urging the state not to remove wolves from New York’s endangered species list, as the DEC is proposing to do because they’ve been gone for nearly 100 years, in hopes that preserving their environment fosters a comeback.
Solar farms of all sizes are booming in parts of upstate New York, sparked by a nationwide push for renewable or carbon-free electricity and hastened by a new state law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Not everyone is happy about that.
Police took nine juveniles into custody last night following a violent altercation at Crossgates Mall that turned into a car chase, authorities said.
By the end of 2020, the state Thruway will be completely converted to cashless tolling. On Jan. 1, 2021, Thruway tolls could change for the first time since 2010.
A 25-year-old Albany woman was struck and killed early yesterday morning while walking on the Taconic State Parkway shortly after her car crashed, the Columbia County Sheriff’s office said.
Just one day after saying they didn’t have enough answers to satisfy safety concerns about the Uncle Sam Parking Garage, Troy officials said it will re-open today.
The Voorheesville middle school and high schools are closed today due to a burst pipe and boiler, the district said.
Two Capital Region residents have assumed command of New York Army National Guard companies.
A couple in their 20s and their 10-year-old son are dead, and their 3-year-old son is hospitalized with gunshot wounds, after what police described as a “targeted” shooting at a Hudson Valley home yesterday morning, authorities said.
Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal announced his resignation from office “effective immediately” to take a job with the Freelancers Union.
Long Island’s largest LGBT nonprofit is being scrutinized by the state over the way it handles the millions of taxpayer dollars it receives each year.
The Museum of Chinese in America on Friday said that a fire has likely destroyed all of its priceless 85,000-piece collection telling the story of Chinese migration to the United States.
Officials said Cooperstown could see more people than ever during the July 24-27 induction-ceremony weekend, when former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Siena’s Saints completed a two-game home sweep by outclassing Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference co-leader Quinnipiac 84-61 for their most lopsided victory of the season before a crowd of 6,752 at Times Union Center yesterday afternoon.
The Albany Patroons are not only back for their third year in the most recent incarnation of the franchise but are on the steadiest ground ever for them.
RIP Margo Lion, a theater producer who was largely responsible for bringing “Jelly’s Last Jam” and “Hairspray” to Broadway and played a major role in other important shows, including “Angels in America,” who died Friday in Manhattan. She was 75.
Photo credit: George Fazio.