Rise and Shine: Jan. 30, 2020

Good Thursday morning, CivMixers. Can you believe January is almost over? This weekend, it will be February already.

It’s a mere 49 days and just under 20 hours until the first day of spring, (March 19 in the Northern Hemisphere). At the rate we’re going, it will be here before you know it.

Of course, it doesn’t feel terribly spring-like these days, which makes visualization of the warmth that’s to come difficult. Today, for example, temperatures will be in the mid-30s, according to The Weather Channel. It will be mostly sunny with 0 percent chance of precipitation. So we’ve got that.

It’s National Croissant Day. Crescent-shaped breads have been made by a wide variety of cultures for many years, but nothing quite beats the buttery, flaky goodness that is a croissant, which is typically associated with France.

According to the interwebs, credit goes to to an Austrian military officer named August Zang, who opened a Viennese bakery in 1939 in Paris, introducing France to Viennese baking techniques.

On this day in 1835, Richard Lawrence misfired at President Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C. in the first ever attempted assassination of a U.S. commander in chief.

In 1873, “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne was published in France by Pierre-Jules Hetzel. (Great book).

In 1933, the “Lone Ranger” show began a 21-year run on ABC radio.

In 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by the Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse.

In 1956, Elvis Presley recorded his version of “Blue Suede Shoes.”

In 1972, Bloody Sunday occurred, in which 27 unarmed civilians were shot (14 are killed) by the British Army during a civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland – the highest death toll from a single shooting incident during “the Troubles.”

In 1975, Ernő Rubik applied for a patent for his “Magic Cube” invention, later to be known as a Rubik’s cube.

In 2013, Richard Reid (AKA the “show bomber”) was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to bomb an American Airlines flight with 197 on board.

Actor Christian Bale is 46 today. Also marking birthdays: Actor Wilmer Valderrama (41), rocker Phil Collins (69), Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein (the king of Jordan – 58), and former Vice President Dick Cheney (79).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president and former New York governor, was born on this day in Hyde Park, NY. Roosevelt won reelection in 1944, but with his physical health declining during WW II, he died in April 1945, less than three months into his fourth term.

In the headlines…

In a striking shift from President Donald Trump’s claims of “perfect” dealings with Ukraine, his defenders asserted at his U.S. Senate trial that a trade of U.S. military aid for political favors — even if proven — could not be grounds for his impeachment.

The White House and Senate Republicans worked aggressively to discount damaging revelations from John R. Bolton and line up the votes to block new witnesses from testifying in the impeachment trial, in a push to bring the proceeding to a swift close.

Thirty-eight more coronavirus deaths in China were announced yesterday, bringing the toll to 170. Another 1,737 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours for a total of 7,711 worldwide, according to Chinese officials and the WHO, but the real number is likely to be higher.

For countries outside China, the time to prevent an epidemic is now, when cases are few and can be isolated. They are trying to seize the moment to protect themselves against the outbreak.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned the maker of Purell hand sanitizers to stop claiming its products can prevent people from catching the flu, Ebola virus, the MRSA superbug and norovirus.

Life expectancy increased for the first time in four years in 2018, the federal government said, raising hopes that a benchmark of the nation’s health may finally be stabilizing after a rare and troubling decline that was driven by a surge in drug overdoses.

Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, posted a statement to her Instagram, paying tribute to her husband and daughter Gianna, who both died in a helicopter crash on Sunday that killed seven others. She thanked those who had expressed their condolences following the tragedy.

Facebook said that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology in Illinois, giving privacy groups a major victory that again raised questions about the social network’s data-mining practices.

What can New York counties do to control Medicaid costs? That was the billion-dollar question lawmakers had for state health officials at the third hearing of the year to delve into the 2021 state budget. The session, however, did not yield many answers.

Lawmakers also complained they weren’t notified by the Cuomo administration about just how much the Medicaid budget has ballooned recently.

New York City could be on the hook for $1.1 billion in extra costs thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new Medicaid proposal, officials charge.

It has been a little less than a month since a series of sweeping bail reforms went into effect in New York – and now everyone wants to hear from law enforcement.

Paper or plastic? New York shoppers may soon find themselves juggling their groceries home. A paper bag shortage is expected to hit the Empire State hard when Albany’s plastic bag ban goes into effect March 1.

Assemblyman Dan Quart, a Manhattan Democrat, has introduced a bill that would permit legislative staff to form a collective bargaining unit. This comes and NYC Council workers take strides toward unionization.

Six people arrested in connection with a $7 million drug trafficking ring based in the Bronx were released late Tuesday without bail under the new state criminal justice reform law, officials said.

A Long Island judge intentionally ignored the state’s controversial bail-reform law and refused to release a defendant he deemed a “menace to society.”

Criminal justice reformers were riding high last spring after the legislature passed bail reform. But a backlash over the bail law may have diminished their chances of winning additional reforms on parole eligibility, solitary confinement and police accountability.

An Orthodox Jewish woman who claims Tiffany Harris assaulted her says she believes her alleged attacker is “unwell” and shouldn’t be held on bail pre-trial.

A New York nonprofit called Childrens Community Services, to which NYC has paid about $500 million since 2017 to provide roughly 1,900 units for homeless people, including families with children, was raided by the authorities, officials said.

The self-help group NXIVM gained a reputation as a “sex cult” last year after its leader, Keith Raniere, was convicted of coercing some of his female followers into sexual servitude. But a federal lawsuit alleges NXIVM was also an insidious pyramid scheme.

New York’s capital city is “truly on the rise,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said during her yearly State of the City address last night, but she warned that concerns about a plummeting immigrant population and a potential undercount in the 2020 census may stymie that ascent.

The suspect in a 1975 New Year’s Eve slaying of a Navy dental technician in California was arrested late last week in Troy, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Unemployment in the Capital Region edged higher in December, rising to 3.6 percent of the workforce from 3.5 percent last year, the New York State Department of Labor reported this week. In November, the rate had been just 3.2 percent.

Siena College’s Research Institute is actively searching for people to become pollsters.

Parking rates at the Rensselaer Rail Station, which have not been increased for about seven years, could soon go up.

A large retirement payout means that former Saratoga Springs fire chief Robert Williams topped the city’s 2019 payroll, even though he retired in February.

The PFOA water contamination case in Petersburgh is headed to trial. A state Supreme Court judge ruled against Taconic Plastics and denied their summary judgment, which may pave the way for the first certified class action case involving PFOA.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to announce legislation to equip female service members with proper fitting body armor.

The attorney for Edward Mangano asked a federal judge this week to throw out most of the corruption convictions against the former Nassau county executive or grant him a new trial, based on new evidence and an appeals court ruling.

The planned sale of the shuttered Southern Vermont College has fallen through, according to the anticipated buyer.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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