Rise and Shine: Jan. 29, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers. We’re headed over the hump on this Wednesday morning.

I ran into someone yesterday who incredulously inquired whether I’m “REALLY” awake every morning at the crack of dawn when I post “Rise and Shine.” I get this question a lot. So, yes, it’s truly me, live and in person, writing this each and every day and not some anonymous bot. And no, I don’t sleep that much, actually. It’s sort of a thing.

Now that we’ve got THAT out of the way…

Here’s something cool: It’s the birthday of the first school for Seeing Eye Dogs, which opened on Jan. 29, 1929 in Nashville, Tenn. Here’s some history:

“The original Seeing Eye school was co-founded by Morris Frank, a young Nashville insurance salesman who was blind, and Dorothy Harrison Eustis who was a Philadelphia socialite.”

Also, in case you’ve got some time on your hands and are interested in taking a trip out west, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is taking place in Elko, Nevada.

I realized belatedly that I forgot to inform you about the weather yesterday. I think I’m just in denial that it’s still winter. We’ve hit the part that seems to drag on forever, when the idea of spring and sun and grass and warmth seems like a pipe dream.

Anyway, it’s going to be mostly sunny today, with highs in the mid-30s, according to The Weather Channel.

On this day in 1595, William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” originally published in 1597, is thought to have been first performed at The Globe theater.

In 1785, in a surprising announcement, John Hancock resigned as governor of Massachusetts, allegedly due to his failing health.

In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” was first published in the New York Evening Mirror.

In 1920, the artist Walt Disney started work with the KC Slide Co. for $40 a week.

In 1964, “Dr Strangelove,” the movie directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, premiered.

In 1966, the US female Figure Skating championship was won by Peggy Fleming.

In 1984, President Reagan formally announced he would seek a second term.

In 2015, Malaysia officially declared the disappearance of missing flight MH370 an accident.

In 2018, Marvel’s film “Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, premiered in Los Angeles.

Actor Tom Selleck (75) former House Speaker Paul Ryan (50) and TV host Oprah Winfrey (66) are all celebrating birthdays today. Also marking another trip around the sun are singer Adam Lambert (38) and actress Sara Gilbert (45).

American abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland on this day in 1820. She escaped North in 1849 and became the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, risking her life to lead hundreds of family members and other slaves to freedom.

Tubman died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913 in Auburn, NY, where she was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery.

In the headlines…

Republicans lack the votes to block witnesses at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded late yesterday, a potentially major hurdle for Trump’s hopes to end the trial with a quick acquittal.

Earlier yesterday, Trump’s lawyers concluded his defense with a plea to move on and appealed to the Senate to disregard a new account by the former national security adviser John R. Bolton that bolsters the impeachment case against the president.

Trump unveiled his vision for Middle East peace in a White House launch that gifted Israel a wishlist of its long-held demands while promising Palestinians a potential “state,” but with severe restrictions.

The president backed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his battle with National Public Radio and tweeted out more media criticism, one target familiar and the other less so.

Trump is eager to show off a big policy win during his impeachment trial by signing into law a major rewrite of the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico.

Countries, cities and businesses across the globe issued new travel warnings yesterday, vastly expanding a cordon intended to control the flow of people to and from China, where the authorities are struggling to contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Chinese officials confirmed nearly 6,000 cases of the mysterious illness as foreign governments began airlifting their citizens out of Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter.

…A chartered plane carrying more than 200 Americans from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, landed in Anchorage shortly after 9:20 p.m. last night.

US health officials said they are directing $105 million to fight the deadly coronavirus outbreak, but insisted Americans should not be alarmed.

Dogs are featured prominently in some 2020 Democratic hopefuls’ campaigns.

Presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg touched off a social media debate on how to play with a dog after video emerged of him greeting a dog by shaking its snout at a campaign stop in Vermont.

Harvey Levin, the founder of TMZ, said the outlet had the OK from “Kobe’s people” to break news of the helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people.

A California woman who lives near the site where Bryant’s helicopter crashed says her Google Nest camera captured audio of the doomed aircraft’s final moments.

The helicopter didn’t have a recommended warning system to alert the pilot he was too close to land but it’s not clear it would have averted the crash that killed nine because the pilot may have lost control as the aircraft plunged into a fog-shrouded mountain, federal investigators said.

The Washington Post reinstated the reporter who was suspended after tweeting about Bryant’s sexual assault case in the hours following his death.

Six suspected drug dealers who are accused of running a $7 million fentanyl distribution operation out of a Bronx apartment were released without bail under the state’s new criminal justice law.

A blistering federal lawsuit filed in Brooklyn accuses NXIVM co-founder Keith Raniere and 14 of his key associates of running a corrupt organization that physically and psychologically abused people. More here.

An Albany judge delivered a major win to district attorneys last night, striking a controversial law that would have allowed the probing of state prosecutors by a state panel. The law created a Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct empowered with investigating accusations of wrongdoing by prosecutors.

A legislative proposal in New York would go further than states across the U.S. over how much marijuana a person could have before getting in trouble, allowing those 21 years old to have three ounces of pot – one of the most lenient possession thresholds in the nation. (The governor prefers a much lower amount: One ounce).

Cheryl Healton — a public health expert who helped develop the award-winning anti-tobacco Truth campaign and now heads New York University’s School of Global Public Health — believes those who sign off on any opioid settlement ought to heed a few lessons from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with Big Tobacco first.

The governor’s top aide Melissa DeRosa earned a $207,323 paycheck in 2019, according to new payroll data released by the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY, which is more than her boss made last year.

…A total of 2,661 state employees, including 1,756 executive branch workers, were paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newly increased $200,000 salary, according to the SeeThroughNY data.

…The highest-paid employee on the state payroll for the second consecutive year was Dr. Gary Green, a heart surgeon and clinical associate professor at SUNY’s Health Science Center in Syracuse. His pay totaled $753,842.

One-time aspiring actresses Tarale Wulff and Dawn Dunning are expected to describe their experiences from the 2000s with the disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein when they take the witness stand today at a New York City rape trial seen as a milestone for the #MeToo movement.

Local health officials are refusing to back a NYC Council bill that wages war on the Kardashians and other A-list celebrities peddling such items as “detox teas” and “flat tummy” lollipops, saying it’s unclear that the weight-loss laxatives pose serious health risks to self-conscious teens.

Time is ticking down on a Drug Enforcement Agency emergency order that made all fentanyl-related substances illegal. The two-year national mandate runs out February 6.

For the second time, Ballston Spa Middle School student Gregory Kaatz won the school’s annual GeoBee, the first stage in the National Geographic GeoBee.

The NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney busted an illegal gun ring that ran weapons up from Georgia to New York City — with a 33-year-old Parks Department employee as the accused kingpin, officials said.

The NYPD’s largest police union has sued the Civilian Complaint Review Board over a ballot measure that expanded the watchdog agency — claiming the voter-approved legislation was “an illegal power-grab.”

Chris’s Southern Connection, a restaurant located on Madison Avenue, is now owned by the state after the owner failed to pay his taxes.

After almost 50 years, SUNY Empire State College has an official mascot. Following a month-long, online campaign that resulted in a total of 9,922 votes cast, Blue the Bluebird (the state’s official bird, btw), beat out its competition.

Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, who built a hard-hitting news operation within a digital media organization better known for clickbait and listicles, will be The New York Times’s next media columnist. It is not clear how his imminent departure may affect the future of BuzzFeed News.

PETA has sent a letter to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club urging them to retire Phil and another groundhog to a sanctuary, and start using an animatronic groundhog instead.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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