Rise and Shine: Feb. 27, 2020

Good Thursday morning, CivMixers, and Happy International Polar Bear Day.

Yes, that’s a thing. Even if it’s a mostly made-up thing, I’m still down with it. I love polar bears.

It’s going to be another gray day here in the Capital Region, with wind and rain – and maybe even some wet snow in the higher elevations – falling in the morning, and high temperatures in the mid-40s, according to The Weather Channel.

There could be gusts of up to 40 mph, and the thermometer is going to be taking a nose dive over the next few days, so don’t pack up those sweaters and heavy coats just yet.

JWoww (AKA Jenni Farley, remember her as Snooki’s bestie from Jersey Shore?) is celebrating her 34th birthday today. Others marking another year around the sun: Chelsea Clinton, actress Kate Mara, and singer Josh Groban.

Another “Liz” who was far more famous than I ever was or could hope to be in this lifetime – Elizabeth Taylor, that is – was born on this day in 1932. She died of congestive heart failure in 2011 after a very full career and rather infamously being married eight times to seven different men.

Also born on this day was “Grapes of Wrath” author John Steinbeck. (Actually, I preferred “Cannery Row,” and also “East of Eden.” “Of Mice and Men” was just too sad for me). He died died in New York City in December 1968, of heart disease and congestive heart failure at the age of 66.

In the news…

An employee opened fire yesterday at one of the nation’s largest breweries in Milwaukee, killing five fellow workers before taking his own life, police said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for unity among Democrats amid Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surge in the presidential race, even as House Democrats worry about a volatile election season that could put a self-described democratic socialist atop the ticket and threaten their majority.

With supporters calling it more than 100 years in the making, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation that makes lynching a federal hate crime for the first time in U.S. history.

A federal appeals court ruled that the Department of Justice (DOJ) could withhold funding from cities and states that refuse to cooperate with the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

…The city of Albany is just one of the municipalities across the nation that faces the threat of lost funding over its status as a sanctuary city.

Growing concerns inside the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank about the spread of the new coronavirus have reportedly prompted the institutions to consider scaling back their Spring Meetings in April or hold them by teleconference.

Italy sought to rally international support for its virus containment efforts even as its caseload reached 447, people linked to Italy fell ill across Europe and as far away as Brazil, and the U.N.’s health agency urged a scaled-up response.

A person in California who was not exposed to anyone known to be infected with the coronavirus, and had not traveled to countries in which the virus is circulating, has tested positive for the infection. It may be the first case of community spread in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Iran says the new coronavirus has killed 26 people amid 245 confirmed cases in the Islamic Republic, a significant increase in the number of known cases.

President Donald Trump assured the public last night that the risk of novel coronavirus infection remains “very low” for most Americans at the moment, but his health officials said they do expect more cases in the U.S. and the virus to continue into the next year.

Trump named Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the government’s response to the coronavirus, even as he repeatedly played down the danger to the United States of a widespread domestic outbreak.

Trump ripped Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over their criticism of his response to the coronavirus threat — charging that they were playing politics while he was trying to protect the American people.

With just under five months to go before the scheduled opening of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo on July 24, organizers in Japan and at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Switzerland are grappling with the coronavirus outbreak, which is threatening to derail the world’s largest sporting event.

In Europe, corporate emergency plans are forcing employees to work remotely, and other businesses are refining their protocols for when the illness arrives on their doorstep.

Officials from New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut outlined what their states are doing to prepare for a potential coronavirus pandemic in the region. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking the state legislature for $40 million in emergency spending to help the state combat the coronavirus.

…In a briefing in the stats Capitol, the governor and his health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, stressed that New York still had no confirmed cases of the virus, but warned that its spread to the state was inevitable.

The stock of respiratory masks at Bellevue Hospital, which examined New York City’s first suspected case, substantially dwindled when news broke that the coronavirus had landed in the U.S.

“Already our public health officials have distributed 1.5 million masks in the city of New York. That is a very good start but we need more. We have requests out for an additional minimum of 300,000 surgical masks,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on the city’s response to the virus sweeping the globe.

Trump’s re-election campaign sued The New York Times for libel, alleging that an Op-Ed article published by the newspaper falsely asserted a “quid pro quo” between Russian officials and the president’s 2016 campaign.

The Village People says they won’t stop Trump from using “YMCA” Or “Macho Man” at his rallies, but they also don’t endorse it.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani denied asking former Gov. George Pataki to cancel the 2001 mayoral election so he could stay in office following the Sept. 11 terror attacks — calling the claim “bulls–t” that Pataki is using “to sell a book.”

A detective’s tactics during the interrogation of the 13-year-old accused of murdering Barnard freshman Tessa Majors were the focus of a hearing in Family Court. Judge Carol Goldstein must decide if the video can be used as evidence at the boy’s trial next month.

An increasing number of state legislators are seeking to bypass Cuomo by pursuing a constitutional amendment, leaving it to New York’s voters to replace a state ethics panel that has been accused of brushing aside wrongdoing — including allegations of sexual harassment and government corruption.

Two of Albany’s “three pols in a room” – the governor and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins – want to fix the state’s controversial bail-reform law the same way it got messed up in the first place — through closed-door negotiations over the state budget.

New York’s Chief Judge Janet DiFiore weighed in on the state’s controversial bail reform, calling it a “counterproductive” mistake when the governor and the Legislature eliminated judicial discretion to detain dangerous criminals when they rammed through the law change as part of last year’s state budget.

Cuomo wasn’t thrilled with ex-mayor and current presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s declaration during Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina that he was the key to getting same-sex marriage passed in New York back in 2011.

Brooklyn Democratic Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz is calling for his fellow state lawmakers to support legislation that would help trace firearms and strengthen efforts to ensure weapons are handled safely and responsibly.

When the jury found Harvey Weinstein guilty of two felony sex crimes, it was not just a major legal victory for Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. but a shot at redemption for the prosecutor, who had been severely criticized for not bringing charges against Weinstein five years earlier, before the producer became a symbol of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement.

Vance filed a brief in the US Supreme Court opposing Trump’s bid to use presidential immunity to avoid turning over his financial records.

Dozens of community members came out to an Albany Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on whether to declare a West Hill grocery store a nuisance property.

A 15-year-old Saratoga Springs High School student was hospitalized after he ate THC-laced gummies.

Retired attorney Cheryl Coleman told a lawyer for her former client, killer Edward “Ted” Mero, that she did not disclose to the courts her freelance employment of Mero’s prosecutor Steven Sharp because she feared Albany County District Attorney David Soares would fire him.

A twice-convicted sex offender testified in an attempt to convince a Rensselaer County State Supreme Court jury that he shouldn’t be sent away for treatment under a civil commitment order proceeding brought by the state Attorney General’s Office.

When dialing 911 you expect a highly trained professional to be the first of many who will help “save the day.” But dispatch centers across the country are constantly struggling to fill the seats of those who answer the emergencies.

The Vermont House just advanced legislation to tax and regulate marijuana sales in the state.

The discovery of a 1,000-gallon fuel tank stalled the transformation of the old Vanilla Bean bakery into a $2 million center of Italian dining, forcing Rocco and Matt DeFazio — the father-and son team who hope to transform the building — to again ask the city to approve plans for a project the city signed off on five years ago.

National Girl Scout Weekend is right around the corner! The monumental weekend falls this year between Feb. 29 – Mar. 1. For the first time this year, cookie lovers nationwide are able to get their hands on Girl Scout Cookies.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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