While You Were Out: Jan. 13, 2020

Another Monday in the books! Well, not entirely on this end, since I’m still at it and will be burning the midnight oil. I hope that’s not the case for you, but if you need a bit of a news break, here are some headlines to consider…

On the eve of the next 2020 Democratic presidential debate, which will be held tomorrow night at Drake University in Iowa, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has dropped out of the race, ending a nearly yearlong quest built around a message of peace and unity that failed to resonate with voters eager for a more aggressive posture against President Trump.

Queen Elizabeth II gave a reluctant blessing to Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to “live a more independent life” in both Canada and the U.K., but she said she “would have preferred” that they remain “full-time working Members of the Royal Family.”

…The strikingly personal statement did not answer a host of thorny questions, including who would pay for the couple’s upkeep, whether they could achieve financial independence without unacceptably commercializing the monarchy or even whether they will keep their royal titles, given the queen’s pointed use of their first names.

In the early 2000s, Elise Stefanik and Pete Buttigieg were pals at Harvard University with shared political ambitions. Now, she’s a prominent Republican congresswoman and he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

In a private meeting in 2018 between Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sanders said that he did not think a woman could win the presidency, according to two people familiar with the discussion, though he has vehemently denied making that statement.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared that a deadly shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., was an act of terrorism, and he asked Apple in an unusually high-profile request to provide access to two phones used by the gunman.

An accused killer who was released from custody under the state’s new bail reform laws is headed back into custody after a grand jury indicted him on a murder charge.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to hint at possible changes to the state’s new cashless bail, but did not go into specifics. “I think something is necessary, the question is what,” he told reporters during a visit to Rockland County.

Cuomo tomorrow will return to Puerto Rico to provide relief efforts to the earthquake-ravaged island. Cuomo has traveled to the island several times since taking office as governor and has directed state resources to aid the island after Hurricane Maria.

Despite protests from state Republicans, the special election to fill the congressional seat in Western New York that was vacated by Chris Collins won’t happen until April.

State Senate Democrats have raised $2.4 million over the last six months and have a combined $3.7 million in cash on hand. The numbers reflect both the Democrats’ main fundraising committee and its soft-money housekeeping account, which has no limits on donations, but the money is restricted in use.

Assembly Democrats are set to report holding a combined $4.3 million in the conference’s campaign coffers. The conference will report this month having a record-high cash-on-hand of $3.5 million in its main campaign account at the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee.

After a minor setback, the state Education Department (SED) and Board of Regents are moving forward with an inquiry into the state’s graduation requirements.

A Wynantskill man who sprinted at a plane’s cockpit during a flight, pounding on the door before attacking a flight attendant and fighting with officers at the Newark airport, has been charged with aggravated assault and other crimes, according to the Port Authority.

An Albany car owner left their car running to go into a Central Avenue store early this morning but an opportunistic thief hopped in it and took off for Troy before crashing the car near Hoosick and Eighth streets, police said.

The city of Schenectady plans to send its own engineer into the Wedgeway building on Saturday as city officials try to determine if the landmark building at the corner of Erie Boulevard and State Street is safe for habitation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is questioning why Cuomo’s $2 billion AirTrain plan was the only option among dozens for getting travelers to and from La Guardia to have survived a federal review.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko, of Amsterdam, ended the year with a comfortable fundraising lead over multiple challengers who are seeking his seat in 2020.

Matchbox Twenty and frontman Rob Thomas will be playing the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as part of its “Matchbox Twenty 2020” tour, which was announced today.

The owner of a Hoosick Falls restaurant said he has removed a sign that said “Gas Chamber” after a customer complained it evoked images of the Holocaust.

An earthquake was recorded shortly after 5:30 a.m. this morning just over the border in Canada.

A women’s equality march and rally, organized by students, will move through the city of Saratoga Springs on Saturday.

A water main break early this morning shut down several New York City subway lines and flooded a swath of the Upper West Side around Lincoln Center just before the start of the morning rush hour.

A high school student from Westchester helped discover a new planet while interning for NASA last summer, the space agency recently announced.

Cuomo’s erstwhile primary foe, Cynthia Nixon, is set to direct a Broadway production of “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,” Jane Chambers’s groundbreaking lesbian play that debuted Off Broadway in 1980. Ellen DeGeneres, Lily Tomlin, Harriet Newman Leve, Portia de Rossi and Jane Wagner will produce.

“Joker,” the drama about the mentally ill Batman villain that sparked backlash with its realistic depictions of extreme violence, triumphed at the 92nd annual Academy Awards nominations this morning, earning 11 nods, the most of any film.

…For the second year in a row, the Oscars snubbed female directors in its nominations. Not a single woman was nominated for Best Director, even though many of the year’s most acclaimed movies were directed by women.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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