While You Were Out: Jan. 27, 2020

Viruses. Impeachment trials. Budget hearings. Oh my.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to put in place a policy connecting the use of public benefits with whether immigrants could become permanent residents. The new policy can be used to deny green cards to immigrants over their use of public benefits including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers, as well as other factors.

Senators faced mounting pressure today to summon John Bolton to testify at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial even as Trump’s lawyers brushed past extraordinary new allegations from Trump’s former national security adviser and focused instead on disputed facts and historical arguments for acquittal.

Kobe Bryant’s doomed helicopter pilot was warned yesterday he was flying “too low” to be picked up by radar as he carried eight passengers through foggy conditions approaching Calabasas, Calif. He likely never heard the transmission.

Bryan’s helicopter had received approval to fly through the controlled airspace around Burbank even though weather conditions were worse than usual standards for flying.

Bryant was remembered today at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

The Lakers and the Clippers will not play as planned tomorrow night, the NBA said, as the players and others throughout basketball grieve Bryan’s death.

A rally and news conference in support of marijuana legalization will be held tomorrow at the Capitol as lawmakers once again are determining how to move forward on the issue. The rally, to be held by the Start SMART NY coalition, will include lawmakers who back the measure – including Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman, of Manhattan, introduced a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition software and biometric surveillance by law enforcement in New York.

New York will hold an international conference in May to help recover property stolen during Nazi persecution in Europe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during a trip to Poland.

Public health officials are monitoring five people in New York State to determine whether they have been infected by the novel coronavirus that has sickened nearly 3,000 people, mostly in China, Cuomo said. Tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came back negative for four other people in New York.

…Two Broome County residents who recently returned from separate trips to China are being monitored and tested for the Coronavirus.

U.S. stocks fell sharply today, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down by more than 450 points, as investors grappled with fresh worries about the spread of a new virus in China that threatens global economic growth.

The World Health Organization has so far declined to declare a global health emergency, citing a lack of person-to-person infection outside of China.

With isolated cases of the dangerous new coronavirus cropping up in a number of states, public health officials say it is only a matter of time before the virus appears in New York City.

As she tried to fight off Harvey Weinstein’s advances, Mimi Haleyi told him “no, no, no” before he held her down on a bed and forcibly performed oral sex on her, she said in emotional testimony today at Weinstein’s trial.

Prince Andrew initially said he would help American officials investigating Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking, but so far he has ignored their requests.

New Jersey will become the first state to require that builders take into account the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels, in order to win government approval for projects, Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced.

Hillary Clinton’s most prominent return to the public eye has come at the Sundance Film Festival, where the former Secretary of State unveiled a candid four-hour documentary series, “Hillary.”

Pioneer Bank chief Thomas Amell earned a $187,731 bonus last year despite the Colonie-based bank’s $35 million entanglement in the MyPayrollHR scandal that set off shock waves through the Capital Region and other parts of the country when the Clifton Park software company collapsed.

Price Chopper will permanently close its Lansingburgh supermarket at the north end of Troy on Saturday, Feb. 29, the Schenectady-based chain announced.

Wegmans eliminated single-use plastic grocery bags from all New York stores starting today.

…Those who don’t bring or buy their own reusable sacks can pay five cents apiece for paper bags, with any profits donated to local food pantries, according to the 101-store Wegmans chain, which also operates in neighboring Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts as well as Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

The Legislature’s first joint budget hearing of the year got off to a stormy start. Protesters briefly flooded a hearing on environmental funding Monday as state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos attempted to praise Cuomo’s climate record.

A Saratoga County sheriff’s deputy was charged with multiple felonies after investigators said he sexually assaulted two children under the age of 13.

New York’s 122nd Assembly District in the Southern Tier will be represented by a new face next year — and it could be a familiar name. Nick Libous, the son of late GOP state Sen. Tom Libous, will once again make a run for the seat.

A psychiatrist hired to evaluate Grafton Thomas found the 37-year-old’s mental illness makes him incompetent to stand trial on federal hate crimes charges accusing him of using a machete to attack Jews attending a Hanukkah party at a rabbi’s house on Dec. 28, according to his attorney.

Six juveniles are now under arrest after a fight last night at Crossgates.

… Yet another fight at Crossgates, and Guilderland police say they’re ready to put prevention methods in place.

Sales of New York City apartment buildings tumbled to near-decade lows last year, after new rent rules scared investors away from properties with regulated units.

Disturbed is coming to Saratoga Performing Arts Center this summer. Live Nation in a press release announced the rockers will be performing Aug. 4 as part of The Sickness 20th Anniversary Tour. Staind and Bad Wolves will also be performing as guests.

Sammy Hagar is set to be rocking out in Saratoga Springs this August — just remember to resist the urge to speed on your way to the concert. Hagar, of “I Can’t Drive 55” and Van Halen fame, is scheduled to appear Aug. 18 with The Circle at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, together with Whitesnake and Night Ranger.

Already??? Spring can’t come fast enough.

Troy Night Out will be serving up something special for hot chocolate lovers this Friday – a Hot Chocolate Hop featuring unique hot chocolate recipes from several downtown businesses from 5-9 p.m.

Google Drive access has been restored to thousands of users after a service disruption, the company announced at 12:46 p.m. Central Time.

RIP Dennis Tompkins, a veteran public servant and all around good guy.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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