Rise and Shine: June 10, 2020

It’s Wednesday, we are smack-dab in the middle of the week. And it’s going to be another HOT one – 90 degrees hot (or maybe even a little more), to be exact.

It’s going to be mostly cloudy, though, with a stray thunderstorm here and there, so be on the lookout.

It’s also National Iced Tea Day, which is fitting, given the weather forecast. Caffeine, contrary to common beliefs, does NOT dehydrate you – at least not when consumed in moderate amounts. (It is a diuretic, and might make you pee, but not so much as to be worried about, apparently).

So enjoy that full strength iced tea without fear today. I personally prefer lemonade, but you do you.

In the headlines…

George Floyd was laid to rest near his mother in Houston yesterday, two weeks after video of his killing sparked a nationwide movement demanding racial justice and police reform.

About 500 pastors, family members, civil rights leaders and politicians urged mourners gathered in the Fountain of Praise church here and around the U.S. to make the end of his life the beginning of broad change.

“I want justice for my brother, for my big brother, that’s Big Floyd,” Rodney Floyd said. “Everyone is going to remember him around the world. He’s going to change the world.”

Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, addressed the service in a video message, saying: “When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ripped into President Donald Trump for tweeting the unsupported notion that an injured Buffalo protester, Martin Gugino, 75, was involved with Antifa.

Cuomo called the tweet “reprehensible,” and said the president should “show some decency, show some humanity” and apologize. (Thus far, this has not occurred).

Gugino is an activist, a seasoned peacenik who in a lifetime of protest has taken part in demonstrations against military drones, climate change, nuclear weapons and police brutality, friends said, but he’s not a wily Antifa provocateur.

…That theory was floated by the conservative cable network One America News, which the president watches, though its overall audience is small.

Reporters printed out copies of Trump’s tweet, so Republican lawmakers couldn’t say they hadn’t seen it when asked for comment. They declined comment anyway.

Trump this week flatly denied that systemic problems existed in American police departments, declaring that as many as 99.9 percent of the nation’s officers are “great, great people” as he rebuffed mass street protests denouncing racist behavior in law enforcement.

As mass civil unrest over police brutality against African-Americans engulfs the nation, New York lawmakers voted to repeal 50-a, a state law used by police departments to shield disciplinary records.

…The Democrat-led Legislature approved the long-stalled reform of the statute — which is routinely used to keep the public from learning about police misconduct and disciplinary actions taken against officers — in response to protests sparked by the Floyd’s death.

The 50-a bill, written to take effect immediately, was part of a package of police reforms that have stalled in Albany for years, but were imbued with a new sense of urgency over the past few weeks following Floyd’s killing and the massive protests against racist police violence that have roiled New York City.

Cuomo has said he would sign any bill the Legislature passed on 50-A reform, but his office wouldn’t say yesterday when that signing would take place.

The city of Albany quietly painted “Black Lives Matter” onto Lark Street yesterday, three blocks up from Cuomo’s office in the state Capitol.

…The painting was requested by In Our Own Voices, an organization that serves the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color, after seeing Washington D.C. paint the phrase on one of the streets leading to the White House, said Tandra LaGrone, executive director of the nonprofit.

In a letter to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, the president of the city police union said that her executive order banning choke holds and instituting other reforms at the department insulted every police officer in the country.

The New York state court system will begin an independent review of its policies to address possible racial inequities — spurred by Floyd’s death, officials announced. The review will be led by lawyer Jeh Johnson, the former Secretary of Homeland Security under the Obama administration.

Long Island civil rights advocates cheered as New York lawmakers repealed the state law, considered one of the nation’s strictest in shielding police disciplinary records, even as local officials cautioned that officer safety must remain a priority.

Congressional Republicans are crafting their own proposals to respond to Floyd’s killing while he was in police custody and the ensuing nationwide protests, marking a shift in the party’s stance on overseeing police practices and raising the prospect of collaboration with Democrats.

Having long fashioned themselves as the party of law and order, Republicans have been startled by the speed and extent to which public opinion has shifted under their feet in recent days after the killings of unarmed black Americans by the police and the protests that have followed.

A New York Police Department officer seen on a video shoving a protester was criminally charged in Brooklyn, as NYPD officials said they were investigating other cases of alleged police misconduct during demonstrations over the past week.

Floyd and the police officer who killed him, Derek Chauvin, reportedly “bumped heads” while working security together at a nightclub years before their fatal encounter.

A statue of Christopher Columbus was torn down by protestors and tossed into the water at a park in Virginia last night.

The Troy City Council last night heard the list of demands made by the grassroots organization Justice for Dahmeek that were posted online and is expected to discuss them at a press conference this morning outside City Hall.

The Paramount Network confirmed that it had removed the reality show “Cops” from its schedule, as protests nationwide call for police reform. Late last month, the network had temporarily cut the show.

Some D.C. National Guard troops deployed to protests in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said, as top White House Coronavirus Task Force members warned governors of a possible spike in infections tied to the nationwide demonstrations.

Trump last week was on the brink of firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper over their differing views of domestic use of active-duty military, before advisers and allies on Capitol Hill talked him out of it, according to several officials.

Two months ago, when there were roughly one million confirmed coronavirus cases and the primal politics of survival was sweeping the world, shutting down was the order of the day. This week, the number of cases soared past seven million, and economic reopening is occurring anyway.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, cautioned Americans that the coronavirus pandemic “isn’t over yet” and calling it his “worst nightmare.”

“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” Fauci said during a virtual appearance at a conference held by Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “And it isn’t over yet.”

The World Health Organization said it’s still unclear how readily the novel coronavirus is spread by people who don’t develop symptoms, a day after a top official sparked debate by saying such transmission is “very rare.”

New York City saw the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic hit the Big Apple in March — with only 1 percent of people tested for the disease receiving a positive result this week.

More than two weeks after Memorial Day weekend, Albany County has not seen a corresponding spike in the number of people testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Near the end of a decade-long economic expansion, African-Americans were finally finding some financial stability. Unemployment had reached record lows, and their wages had begun rising modestly. The pandemic changed all that.

Beaches and pools may open this summer, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said, changing his stance from the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

“If we can do that then we’re having a real conversation about beaches for sure,” the mayor said. “If we can do that there may even be a way to come back to pools.”

De Blasio said his biracial daughter, Chiara, has previously confronted him about his “white privilege” – and is “usually right.”

NYC’s public school system is mulling a phased start to the next school year and holding some classes remotely as the city eases out of its coronavirus crisis.

The subways yesterday clocked just over 800,000 trips for the first time since March 20, when Cuomo’s “NY on Pause” order forced non-essential workers to stay home to contain the spread of the disease.

Advocates called on New York City and the state to better protect homeless people from Covid-19 in a report charting how the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the homeless.

Reports of child abuse in New York City have dropped sharply since the coronavirus crisis began. And that is worrying the authorities, who say the steep decline could be a sign that an unseen epidemic of abuse is spreading behind locked doors.

Many people are dealing with financial woes, illness and death during the pandemic, but they are increasingly donating money and time to local causes.

A private Facebook group intended for New York City mothers – UES Mommas – has imploded over accusations of racism.

Sean Penn is the latest actor to make a guest appearance at Cuomo’s daily coronavirus press briefings. Penn, through his nonprofit organization Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), has opened up 11 coronavirus testing sites in hot spot, under-served New York City communities.

NYC Department of Health officials are offering free home delivery of condoms, lubricant and HIV self-test kits to New Yorkers enduring restricted access to sexual health clinics during the coronavirus crisis. (The announcement was made on “National Sex day” – 6/9).

The University at Albany is taking a closer look at healthcare disparities in the United States.

A man in a wheelchair was among the victims in a spate of shootings that rocked Brooklyn on Monday night, police sources revealed.

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the City’s leading real estate trade association, reported that tax revenue generated from investment and residential sales in New York City and New York State decreased by 76 percent from May 2019 to May 2020, and 40 percent from April 2020 to May 2020.

The nation’s single most Democratic House district could next be held by a Democrat who opposes abortion rights, has a history of endorsing Republicans and making homophobic remarks and ­is still considering voting for Trump in November. Welcome to the South Bronx, the domain for decades of the Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr.

The July 4 fireworks show at the Empire State Plaza has been postponed — at least to Labor Day — as the coronavirus pandemic has subsided in New York but state officials remain reluctant to authorize mass gatherings.

Three Central New York casinos will start reopening their gaming and hospitality operations today. The three Oneida Nation casinos are Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango and Point Place Casino in Bridgeport.

New guidelines have been released for restaurants, nail salons, spas and other businesses qualified for reopening in Phase 3.

Cuomo gave the official green light for Long Island to enter the second phase of reopening today, while announcing an intensified focus on testing and tracing as the state enters a new stage of the battle against the coronavirus.

After three months of near total blackout of cinemas nationwide, movie theaters are preparing to reopen — even if it means only a few titles on the marquee and showings limited to as little as 25 percent capacity.

AMC Theaters, the world’s largest cineplex operator, announced that “almost all” of its locations in the United States and Britain would reopen next month.

Shoppers are returning to retail stores, surprising officials who had predicted a less robust recovery.

Greg Glassman, the founder and chief executive of CrossFit Inc., said he had decided to retire after his inflammatory remarks about the killing of Floyd prompted sponsors and gym owners to cut ties with his company.

Suffolk police arson detectives and bomb squad technicians investigated a suspicious package last night outside Stony Brook University Hospital, authorities said.

The mother of a 34-year-old disabled woman who died after being crushed by aides while in state care is suing officials of the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, alleging that one of the caretakers involved was fired from two similar jobs before she was hired at the home where her daughter died.

Cuomo has nominated seven people to the Adirondack Park Agency Board, which would make the board complete for the first time in more than a year.

Donald Trump Jr.’s eight-day hunting trip in Mongolia last summer not only cost an endangered argali sheep its life, it also cost American taxpayers some $76,859, according to a government watchdog.

Attorney General William Barr in an interview said “some” of the people being investigated in the ongoing federal probe into the origins of the Russia investigation will be recognizable.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating a global hacker-for-hire operation that sent phishing emails to environmental groups, journalists and others.

More than 300 theater artists — black, Indigenous and people of color — this week published a blistering statement addressed to “White American Theater” decrying racial injustice in their industry.

Staff members of The Wall Street Journal sent a letter to newsroom leaders accusing the paper’s former editor in chief, Gerard Baker, who has been an editor at large at The Journal since leaving the top job in 2018, of violating rules that apply to those who work on the news side.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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