Rise and Shine: Jan. 3, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers, and welcome to Friday.

We’re getting close to Perihelion, which will occur this coming Sunday at 2:47 a.m. What is that? Good question. I didn’t know, either. But the internet knows all, and so…

The Earth is closest to the Sun – at its Perihelion – about 2 weeks after the December Solstice and farthest from the Sun – at its Aphelion – about 2 weeks after the June Solstice. At its closest point in its elliptical orbit, Earth swings to within 91,398,199 miles (147,091,144 km) of the sun. That’s in contrast to six months from now, when the Earth reaches aphelion – its most distant point – on July 4, 2020. Then we’ll be 94,507,635 miles (152,095,295 km) from the sun.

So: Earth is roughly 3 million miles (5 million km) closer to the sun in early January than it is in early July. That’s always the case. Earth is closest to the sun every year in early January, when it’s winter for the Northern Hemisphere. We’re farthest away from the sun in early July, during our Northern Hemisphere summer.

So: When it’s cold we are actually CLOSER to the sun. This has to do with the fact that the Earth tilts on its axis while it orbits around the sun. Science is crazy, man. Cra-zy.

A little history…On this day in 1521, Martin Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X from the Roman Catholic Church for failing to recant parts of his Ninety-five Theses, which started the Protestant Reformation.

In 1777, General George Washington’s revolutionary army defeated British forces at Battle of Princeton, New Jersey.

In 1871, Oleomargarine was patented by Henry Bradley in Binghamton. (This is a fun one…more here if you really want to go down the rabbit hole).

In 1888, the first wax drinking straw was patented by Marvin C Stone in Washington, D.C. (Ironic, since today we’re moving toward banning straws, which are now largely made from plastic).

In 1933, Minnie D. Craig became the first female elected as Speaker of the North Dakota House of Representatives – the first woman to hold a speaker position anywhere in the United States.

In 1977, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs incorporated Apple Computer, Inc.

In 1987, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first-ever female artist: Aretha Franklin.

In 2004, after hosting the show for over 30 years, Casey Kasem turned the reigns of “American Top 40” over to Ryan Seacrest.

Speaking of celebrities….climate change activist Greta Thunberg turns 17 today. She shares the day with: Football great Eli Manning (39), actor Mel Gibson (64), actress Danica McKeller (45), and retired car car driver Michael Schumacher (51).

Writer J.R.R. Tolkien, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, was born on this day in 1892. He died in 1973 after suffering from a bleeding ulcer and a chest infection.

In the headlines…

Democratic presidential hopefuls condemned the US airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani last night, with former Vice President Joe Biden calling the attack “a hugely escalatory move” in the region.

Suleimani was the architect of nearly every significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past two decades, and his death was a staggering blow for Iran at a time of sweeping geopolitical conflict.

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned this morning that “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the US after the airstrike.

Oil prices jumped early today in Asia on news that Suleimani had been killed in the strike authorized by the United States, ratcheting up geopolitical tensions and threatening to disrupt world access to oil supplies.

The NYPD will take “immediate steps” to protect the city against any possible “retaliation” due to the strike, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. (He did not elaborate).

A day after a deceptively edited video of him spread on social media, Biden cautioned that the Democratic nominee would be vulnerable to false information in the general election.

More than 200 Republican members of Congress – and two House Democrats – asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion, in a brief urging the justices to uphold a Louisiana law that severely restricts access to the procedure.

Hustler Magazine is under fire for a graphic Christmas card that was sent to several lawmakers featuring a depiction of President Trump’s assassination.

Fund-raising numbers for the fourth quarter of 2019 show an unusually high number of viable 2020 Democratic campaigns. Waiting for the winner: Trump and his huge war chest.

Trump’s reelection campaign announced it raised $46 million during the final three months of 2019 and had nearly $103 million on hand — a massive total at the start of the election year.

Two years after a lack of funds halted construction of a marble-clad Greek Orthodox church at New York’s World Trade Center site, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Greek Orthodox officials announced plans to resume construction with the goal of finishing the rebuilding by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The sentencing of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, which was scheduled for Jan. 17, has been indefinitely delayed.

The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving for NYS called Assembly Minority Leader Kolb’s DWI charge a “poor example” and “inexcusable,” and said he must now “do the right thing,” though refused to say what that is, exactly.

The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics has reportedly opened up a fact-finding inquiry into a possible ethics violation by Kolb who was driving a taxpayer-funded vehicle at the time of his DWI-related crash.

Several law enforcement agencies are searching for Zachary L. Barrantes, a 25-year-old man who was dropped off at Thacher State Park on New Year’s Eve.

The 1 percent Medicaid reimbursement reduction quietly announced by the Cuomo administration over the New Year holiday will save an estimated $126 million this fiscal year and nearly $500 million next year – just a small portion of the multibillion-dollar deficit the state currently faces.

Workers continue to dismantle the smokestack on the former Albany New York Solid Waste Energy Recovery System plant on Sheridan Avenue in Albany. The ANSWERS plant is a decommissioned state-run trash incinerator that burned about 350 tons of waste each day.

An appellate court upheld a civil jury’s verdict that a South Glen Falls school district was not responsible for the death of Jacob Taras, a 13-year-old boy who killed himself four years ago, writing in a note to his parents that he had been bullied by schoolmates.

Officials hope to bring a high-tech security system to the Rockland County community rocked by a bloody machete rampage that wounded five Orthodox Jews attending a Hanukkah party at their rabbi’s house — including an elderly man who is struggling to survive.

A Brooklyn woman charged in one of Wednesday’s reported anti-Semitic attacks in New York was held on $10,000 bond at her arraignment.

Amidst a surge of anti-Semitic attacks, the de Blasio administration announced it is reopening a city program that covers security costs for yeshivas and other religious schools, but some critics don’t think that’s enough.

The police are actively exploring whether a man accused of storming into a Hasidic rabbi’s home and stabbing five people at a Hanukkah celebration last week in Monsey also involved in another stabbing near a synagogue a month earlier, officials said.

An East Syracuse man arrested on Saturday for robbing a Colonie bank, and who has a history of robbing banks, was released without bail.

Bail reform is now a reality in New York. It’s one of the more controversial laws passed last year, and from the top down, many lawmakers to law enforcers say they’re not happy.

A Manhattan Family Court judge ordered Barnard freshman Tessa Majors’ murder suspect Zyairr Davis, 13, to stay locked up while he awaits trial in mid-March. His attorneys argued he should be released into the custody of his family because he’s not a flight risk.

A 23-year-old man who overdosed at (or maybe outside) Duke’s Barber Shop on Madison Avenue in Albany was saved by firefighters who administered Narcan, police say.

Bracing for the 2020 census and recognizing county workers are among the goals of the new chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, Preston Allen.

Two brothers are charged with working together in the theft of a large-screen television at the Walmart in Glenmont, town police said.

Hell’s Kitchen community leaders demanded that Cuomo look elsewhere to find new revenue to fund the string of piers-turned-parks along the Hudson River after he nixed a controversial West Village development plan.

The city of Albany is seeking nominations for the 2020 Tulip Queen & Court until April 6. Nominations for young women interested in continuing Albany’s legacy of community service may apply here.

The former spokesman of Pace University claims his onetime boss constantly sexually harassed him — even sexualizing the autoerotic asphyxiation death of a student — and then fired him after he repeatedly refused to sleep with her.

A viral tweet about picking a seat on New York’s subway prompted a spirited debate over which spot is the most prized. Even Andy Byford, the subway’s leader, weighed in, noting that a true gentleman stands. (He said each seat is special in its own way).

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, 79, who is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, already has some idea of what he is going to tell the show’s audience on the day of his final taping, whenever that may be, and it won’t take long.

The Yankees learned that Domingo German, the 27-year-old pitcher who led the team in victories last season, will be suspended until early June under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

Three crashes involving Teslas that killed three people have increased scrutiny of the company’s Autopilot driving system just months before CEO Elon Musk has planned to put fully self-driving cars on the streets.

The new decade is here, and police are warning us not to abbreviate the year 2020 when signing legal documents.

The elusive subway raccoon living in the Nevins Street subway station in Brooklyn, nicknamed “Chepe” by MTA staff, has been released into Prospect Park after it was finally lured into a cage.

RIP NY State Police Investigator Ryan D. Fortini, who died on Jan. 1 after fighting cancer that stemmed from his assignment to the World Trade Center site, following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, according to Superintendent Keith M. Corlett.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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