Rise and Shine: Feb. 3, 2020

Good Monday morning, CivMixers. It’s a whole new month – and the shortest one of the year, at that.

Ever wonder why February is indeed the shortest month? Well, never fear, the internet is here to answer all your burning questions.

Actually, the answer to this one isn’t so simple.

As far as I can tell, it has something to do with the creation of the Roman calendar and the desire of the Roman King, Numa Pompilius, to both match up with the Lunar calendar and avoid even numbers, which apparently the ancient Romans thought were unlucky.

Did you know that February 30 is usually used as a sarcastic date for referring to something that will never happen or will never be done? Me neither. But there you go.

Also, pity those poor folks who were born on Feb. 29 and so only get to celebrate their birthdays once every four years, when leap year comes around. Here’s how some of those people deal with this weird situation.

We missed several holidays and big headlines over the weekend that are worth noting.

Yesterday, Feb. 2, was Candlemas, a Christian holiday that celebrates three occasions: The presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification (mainly in Catholic churches).

Yesterday was also Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil was pulled from his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob (Western Pennsylvania) and purportedly did not see see his shadow, which, according to legend, means an early spring and warmer temperatures are coming.

ICYMI: PETA says it’s time to retire Phil and instead use an animatronic groundhog in his place.

Also, yesterday Feb. 20, 2020 (02-02-2020) was the first eight digit palindrome of its kind since 11-11-1111, University of Portland professor Aziz Inan.

Yesterday was also a big day in sports, as the Kansas City Chiefs made a late comeback to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, 31-20.

And how about that halftime show featuring J-Lo and Shakira? It seems like half of America loved it and the other half hated it, so “halftime” is a pretty fitting term here.

The hands-down favorite of the halftime show: Emme Maribel Muniz, J-Lo’s 11-year-old daughter, who performed a definitely-not-lipsynced rendition of “Let’s Get Loud,” backed by Shakira on drums.

Of course, for a lot of us, it was all about the ads.

There was a political element to the Super Bowl, as President Donald Trump and ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg aired dueling commercials during the game, both spending an estimated $10 million for 60 seconds of air time.

Trump fumbled his congratulatory tweet following the Super Bowl.

Trump used a Super Bowl pregame interview to rail against Democrats, accusing them of hatred and offering schoolyard insults about his potential 2020 rivals – especially Bloomberg.

Today, Feb. 3, is both National Carrot Day AND National Carrot Cake Day. So, a big day for carrots. It’s also Women’s Physicians Day and National Patients Recognition Day.

It’s a big day in national politics, for the Democrats, at least, as the first-in-the-nation presidential contents known as the Iowa caucuses are taking place this evening.

Iowa’s outsized role in presidential politics is often criticized because the state’s population is more white and more rural than the rest of the U.S. But Iowa mirrors the nation’s economy and demography in one very striking way — its rapidly aging population and the myriad economic, political and social consequences that flow from it.

The polls in Iowa are very tight, and the candidates spent the weekend criss-crossing the state to make their final pitches to Iowa caucus goers. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has a seven-point lead heading into tonight.

The Democratic senators who are running for president would probably very much like to still BE in Iowa. But they had to return to D.C. for the ongoing impeachment trial of the man they’re all hoping to defat in November: President Trump.

White House counsel is hoping proceedings will be done by tomorrow afternoon so Trump can make his State of the Union address having been acquitted by the U.S. Senate. But it looks like things will come down to the wire.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, yesterday refused to say if the House would subpoena John Bolton to testify after the former national security adviser made claims about Trump’s dealing with Ukraine in an unpublished book.

We’re looking at snow showers early this morning, which will give way to cloudy skies in the late morning to afternoon, according to The Weather Channel. Highs are projected to be in the mid-40s.

In the headlines…

The Wuhan coronavirus spreading from China is now likely to become a pandemic that circles the globe, according to many of the world’s leading infectious disease experts.

NYC confirmed last night that two more people are undergoing tests for possible coronavirus in Queens — the second and third suspected cases in the Big Apple.

…Samples from all three NYC patients suspected to have the virus must first be tested at a laboratory in Atlanta that is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine whether any of the patients do in fact have the new coronavirus.

The governor announced that New Yorkers can now call a hotline, 1-888-364-3065, where health department experts will be available to answer questions about the virus. A dedicated website is also available as a resource.

The United States on Friday declared a public health emergency and took drastic steps to significantly restrict entry into the country because of a new virus that hit China and has spread to other nations.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced more flight cancellations to China on Saturday as coronavirus cases rise rapidly.

International companies that rely on Chinese factories to make their products and depend on Chinese consumers for sales are already warning of costly problems as a result of the coronavirus.

For the past four days, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been calling for authoritarian governments in eastern Europe and Central Asia to ease restrictions on press freedom despite criticism for his own treatment of journalists at home.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will sign 10 bills aiming to improve limousine safety today, his office said.

LG Kathy Hochul led a New York delegation to Puerto Rico yesterday that includes dozens of mental health experts and building inspectors to further aid the island’s recovery after an earthquake.

The state and New York City teachers’ unions were officially neutral in the 2018 governor’s race, but records show they funneled big bucks to groups opposed to Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid. The unions are are currently lobbying in Albany for more school funding in the state budget.

Long Island school-district superintendents are cashing in big time when they retire — with some raking in annual pensions of more than $300,000, newly released data reveals.

Freshman Brooklyn Democratic state Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus’s two district offices are in chaos a little over a year after her election, with at least 11 employees either fired or quitting, according to several ex-workers and state payroll records.

Two men passed over for the top law enforcement position at the state DEC have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the agency, its leaders and Cuomo’s office of eliminating the civil service requirements for the job so a black candidate who had failed the qualification test could be appointed.

The state’s ethics watchdog, JCOPE, has proposed different treatment for lawmakers’ charities.

The story of the now former NYC transit chief and the governor, summed up by Partnership for NYC President Kathy Wylde: “Andy Byford won the hearts of New Yorkers with his clear intention to make this the best transit system in the world. But it was naïve of him to think that this governor, who has put his credibility on the line, would rely on any one person to do the job.”

The New York State Bar Association is endorsing the legalization of recreational marijuana, a move that comes as state lawmakers consider proposals this session to legalize the drug.

The town of Bethlehem has extended its moratorium on the opening of new vape shops until at least June, after an initial proposal last year to locate one next to a school sparked concern.

Two men were injured in a shooting outside a State Street bar early yesterday morning. The men’s gunshot wounds were not believed to be life threatening.

The county is continuing efforts to introduce television viewers to Albany County attractions, buying $30,000 of advertising spots that aired on Fox23 affiliates during Super Bowl coverage.

Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, the first member of the state Legislature to be expelled in nearly a century, is again trying to make a political comeback, challenging veteran Queens Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Aubry in a primary.

A construction boom in North Greenbush could turn out to be a boon for the Little Red Schoolhouse, which (if voters approve) hopes to embark on a $3.7 million capital project that includes a 3.2-acre land purchase from the LaSalle Institute next door.

A 19-year-old man jumped to his death on Saturday from the Vessel, the sculpture that is the centerpiece in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards development, the authorities said.

RIP Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning “Queen of Suspense” whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world’s most popular writers, who died Friday at age 92.

Main Street in Ravena looked like a combination of a parade and a movie set yesterday as the community filmed an application to earn a spot on HGTV’s Home Town Takeover.

Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed workers as many as 12 weeks of paid family leave, saying he opposed the $29 million payroll tax to fund the mandatory program.

Hershey’s has taken over the title for the world’s largest chocolate nut bar with a monster-sized Reese’s Take5 that tips the scales at nearly three tons.

This happened.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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