Rise and Shine: Feb. 25, 2020

Good Fat Tuesday morning, CivMixers!

In case you weren’t aware, that’s also known as “Mardi Gras” – the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual Lenten sacrifices and fasting of the Lenten season. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday…and we’re headed towards Easter.

It’s also the last day of Carnival in New Orleans, which is a celebration I have never made it to, but always intended to see.

Anyway, traditionally you’re supposed to indulge in a range of rich fat, fried and sweet foods – from doughnuts to King Cake – on this day before you start giving things up for Lent.

In some homes, it’s traditional to eat pancakes because they’re made of butter, eggs and fat, which would all be given up for Lent. In Poland, it’s known as Paczki Day, which refers to the jelly-filled doughnuts eaten on this day.

In the weather department, we’re looking at clouds in the morning and showers in the afternoon, with temperatures in the low 50s, according to The Weather Channel.

Birthdays of note today: Actress Rashida Jones (44), actress Tea Leoni (54), retired pro wrestler Ric Flair (71), comedian Scott Thompson (AKA Carrot Top – 55), and actor Sean Astin (49).

Former lead guitarist for the Beatles, George Harrison, was born on this day in 1943. Though the majority of the band’s songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison penned a number of popular Beatles’ songs, including: “Taxman”, “Within You Without You”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something.”

Harrison died in November 2001 at the age of 58 after suffering from cancer. His death came two years after he survived a knife attack by an intruder at his Friar Park mansion in England. His remains were cremated and the ashes were scattered according to the Hindu tradition in a private ceremony in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.

In the news…

President Trump last night called for U.S. Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from any cases involving his administration after a recent stinging dissent by Sotomayor.

…In so doing, the president escalated his battle with the judicial system to new heights despite entreaties by his attorney general to refrain from Twitter blasts that complicate the administration’s legal fights.

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center as a “precautionary measure” yesterday shortly after his rape conviction in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released a fact-sheet explaining that he’d pay for his sweeping new government programs through new taxes and massive lawsuits, as well as by slashing spending on the military, among other methods.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former VP Joe Biden ripped into Democratic socialist Sanders for praising Fidel Castro during an interview Sunday night.

The results of the Democratic primary contests so far show that despite his claims, Sanders has prevailed by broadening his appeal among traditional Democratic voters, not by fundamentally transforming the electorate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped more than 1,000 points yesterday in the worst day for the stock market in two years as investors worry that the spread of a viral outbreak that began in China will weaken global economic growth.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused the federal government of playing politics with New Yorkers’ health care after the state was told it would no longer receive federal funds for community-based health services.

“If there’s one area that you’d think should be beyond politics, it’s health care,” Cuomo said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “And what the federal government is doing is hurting Democrats and Republicans, it’s not whether you’re blue or you’re red.”

….The governor called this move the latest a long list of federal “horribles,” including restricting New Yorkers access to the Trusted Traveler programs, denying FEMA aid for areas in the Mohawk Valley affected by the Halloween floods, and delaying a decision on approving congestion pricing for New York City.

If Cuomo makes changes to New York’s controversial criminal justice reforms, they will be tucked into the state’s massive $178 billion budget due April 1. But he wants to rely on “facts and data” instead of political grandstanding and salacious media reports.

After moving in tandem for most of 2019, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are diverging over taxes and criminal-justice policy – particularly bail reform – as budget negotiations start in earnest.

Republican Rep. Tom Reed joined state Assembly and Senate Republicans at the state Capitol in calling for an immediate repeal of the Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses.

Assemblyman John T. McDonald III formally announced online his re-election campaign for a fifth term as he faces a Democratic primary challenge from an Albany County legislator.

As State Police continue to investigate the fatal overdose of a local high school student, the head of a state mental health advocacy group says school districts across New York are adopting a more holistic response to such episodes.

Plans for the 124-mile Constitution gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County have been scrapped with the company that wanted to build it writing off the cost of a nearly decade-long battle to get started.

A partially filled garbage truck flipped over on its top when it drove off a road in the Helderbergs, Albany County Sheriff Craig D. Apple, Sr. said.

After being burnt by missed deadlines last summer in failing to get the South Troy Pool open for swimming, the city is setting deadlines for letting kids swim there this summer and says a new Knickerbacker Park Pool may not be open until 2022.

The family of a New York inmate who killed himself at a prison east of Buffalo sued over his death, saying officials beat the man hours before his suicide and ignored warning signs that he was at a heightened risk for self-harm.

The coronavirus’ impact on global travel is sending tremors through New York City’s hotel industry, which was sagging from declining occupancy and revenue even before the China-originated pandemic struck.

Former state Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, a longtime Southern Brooklyn Democrat who last December beat charges of helping a crooked doctor run a $6.3 million pill mill, is attempting a political comeback by running for the NYC Council.

A New York State Police car hit the front of a house in Rochester early yesterday morning.

David Decker, 69, an engineer and the former leader of the Lake George Watershed Coalition, could go to prison for up to 25 years if a jury finds him guilty of corrupting the government, grand larceny, and scheming to defraud.

Plans to bring Costco to the Capital Region are moving forward while some local environmentalists remain concerned about the impact it will have on the Pine Bush ecosystem.

New York State Police say they plan to go forward with a body camera pilot program for state troopers.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that he underwent arthroscopic meniscus surgery on his left knee on Friday, crowing on NY1 that it was “an amazing procedure.”

City Councilman Omari Shakur released an apology to the residents of the city of Newburgh for his conduct during a traffic stop earlier in the week that was filmed on city police body cameras, stating he has asked the city for an independent investigation into the incident.

The next theater season at Proctors will include the acclaimed new musical “Hadestown,” revivals of “Aida” and “My Fair Lady” and playwright/TV producer Aaron Sorkin’s smash-hit Broadway adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Soon employees at the nearby state Thruway Authority and travelers at Exit 23 will not need to travel far for a burger fix. The region’s third Sonic Drive-In will open Monday, March 2, on Southern Boulevard, taking over a patch of land that once housed a Howard Johnson’s.

The College of Saint Rose is celebrating the success of Julia Gargano, 21, one of its students who wowed judges recently on “American Idol.”

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty to restored charges that accuse him of staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself last year in Chicago and falsely reporting to police that the phony attack was real.

Legendary New York mobster John “Sonny” Franzese, the former underboss of the Colombo Crime Family, has died at 103.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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