Rise and Shine: Feb. 19, 2020

Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers. There are 30 days left until spring.

If you’re a fan of politics and haven’t yet tired of the 2020 presidential battle, tonight will bring some must-watch TV in the form of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, which will set the stage for the Nevada caucuses this coming Saturday.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has been spending like crazy on his bid for the Democratic nomination, made the cut for the debate – just barely – and will be on the stage for the first time thus far this primary season.

Bloomberg is a headstrong 78-year-old billionaire known to blunder at times under even gentle media questioning. He will join five rivals in Las Vegas eager to flame his record of check-writing and party-switching…it should be very interesting – especially for those of us who covered the mayor during his time at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

The former New York mayor’s irritability with questions he deems unwarranted and controversies he feels he has already put to bed could undermine his debut on the debate stage, where Americans will be introduced to the man behind the ubiquitous campaign ads.

The two-hour debate, which is being hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, Noticias Telemundo and The Nevada Independent, is being held at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas. It’s scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET. There will be five moderators.

The Battle of Iwo Jima took place today in 1945. In case you require some brushing up on your history, this was a major battle in which the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

Most people likely recall this battle due to the iconic image of Marines raising the American flag over Mount Suribachi, which was recreated in the statute located at the National Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia.

It’s National Chocolate Mint Day, which is officially recognized (not surprisingly) by the National Confectioners Association.

Interesting fact: One of the earliest mass-producers of chocolate mints was Huyler’s in New York. Their chain of stores spread across the country, and they were once the largest and most prominent chocolate maker in the nation.

It’s going to be partly cloudy today, with temperatures in the high-30s, according to The Weather Channel.

TV actress Mille Bobbie Brown is celebrating her sweet 16 today. Other birthdays of note: Actress Victoria Justice (27), singer Seal (his given name is Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel – 57), singer Smokey Robinson (80), actress Haylie Duff (35), and actor Benicio del Toro (53).

In the headlines…

President Trump, citing what he said was advice from friends and business associates, granted clemency to a who’s who of white-collar criminals from politics, sports and business who were convicted on charges involving fraud, corruption and lies — including the financier Michael R. Milken.

By pardoning Milken, a potent symbol of the “greed is good” 1980s and arguably the most significant white-collar criminal of his generation, Trump has sent two powerful messages: When it comes to justice, money counts. And white-collar crime doesn’t really matter.

Also on the list: NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was granted a full pardon for his 2010 conviction on eight felonies, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials. Kerik, 64, said on Twitter: “There are no words to express my appreciation and gratitude to President Trump.”

Trump also commuted the sentence of Rod R. Blagojevich, a former governor of Illinois who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011 for trying to sell or trade to the highest bidder the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after he was elected president, and three others.

Attorney General William Barr has informed people close to him he’s considering quitting his post after Trump wouldn’t heed his warning to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases, an administration official told The AP.

The Iowa Democratic Party announced that it had completed its partial recanvass, changing results in 29 precincts but shifting no national delegates. But the Epic of Iowa still isn’t over.

Chinese officials hailed recent figures as evidence that the spread of the coronavirus epidemic has slowed, and World Health Organization officials said that China’s strict limits on its people’s movements have helped. But the outbreak and its death toll continue to grow.

China said it would revoke the credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters working in mainland China, in a significant escalation of Beijing’s pressure on foreign news organizations.

Hundreds of passengers have begun leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship after their two-week quarantine in Japan ended. Results are still pending for some passengers who’ve been tested for the virus that has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and more than 540 on the ship.

In the face of a projected $6 billion deficit, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to shift millions of dollars in salaries from the government payroll to the capital budget — thus giving the appearance he’s lowering operating costs, critics charge.

Most plastic bags will be verboten in New York after March 1, but enforcement of the ban will not be immediate amid complaints of a paper bag shortage.

As Cuomo pushes for more gun control, New York’s controversial SAFE Act is under fire again from a group that wants county governments to just not comply with it and become Second Amendment sanctuaries.

A competition in Schenectady for a chunk of $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding from the state features organizations that are no strangers to government largesse, as well as newcomers making their first bids at improvement projects.

Two small towns – Berlin and Petersburgh – are wrestling with how to handle PFOA contamination from a shuttered landfill in a move that could have lasting implications.

New York is one of only 21 states that do not require schools to teach any sex education — not birth control or STD prevention or consent — but advocates hope the time has come to address a vast instructional void in a generally progressive state.

East Greenbush police have found Alexander M. Sotomayor-Garcia, 17, who was reported missing yesterday after he was not seen since Saturday.

A Schenectady County jury found Keyone J. Everett guilty of criminal possession of a weapon and attempts to bribe a witness during a 2019 incident in which he threatened a bar security guard with a gun.

The city will submit its plans for the $10 million South Troy Industrial Road project for the state to review after Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin signed easements last week that will allow the project to move ahead.

Two city teenagers have pleaded guilty to their roles in a shooting that wounded a toddler sleeping in a South End day care center – and will remain free on bail until they are sentenced.

The armchair Nobel laureate Toni Morrison used in her UAlbany office while she worked on her 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Beloved,” is part of an exhibit serving as a tribute to her memory following her death in August.

The de Blasio administration is planning to eliminate one of two ice skating rinks run by the Trump Organization in the northern part of Central Park, despite strong public opposition.

Congestion pricing was sold as the fix New York City’s ailing subways needed. With breakdowns and delays becoming more frequent, an infusion of revenue could help restore the system. But thus far, it has not received the green light it needs from the federal government.

The NYPD is forming a new team of psychologists to combat mental-health issues among its ranks following a spate of cop suicides last year.

Trump tweeted his support of GOP state Sen. Chris Jacobs, who is running to fill the seat of disgraced former WNY Rep. Chris Collins in NY-27.

The president of the Student Association at the University at Albany will head to trial today over accusations of inappropriate purchases with the school credit card.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. warned county legislators that the county could face a 7 to 9 percent property tax increase in the worst case if the state cap on local share of Medicaid costs is removed.

Lake Placid is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games all week long.

The APA is considering a rare $1.5 million in fines against what it says is an “illegal” Adirondack resort in Warren County.

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is awake and talking to doctors after a horrific crash during the final lap at the Daytona 500 on Monday night.

Cardi B’s alleged attack on two sister bartenders at a Queens strip club in 2018 came weeks after the rapper’s best friend ordered purported gang members to target the same women — but the pal didn’t think the first assault was “vicious” enough, new court documents claim.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex must drop their “Sussex Royal” label after deciding to step down as working royals. Following lengthy and complex talks, the Queen and senior officials are believed to have agreed it is no longer tenable for the couple to keep the word “royal” in their branding.

The six-decade cold mystery of a stolen Lake George submarine has finally been solved.

RIP Ja’Net DuBois, the actress who played the sassy Willona Woods in the 1970s TV show “Good Times” and sang the theme song to “The Jeffersons.” She died in her sleep at her California home.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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