Rise and Shine: June 15, 2020

Good Monday morning, CivMixers.

What a strange weekend. It was downright freezing Saturday – for June, anyway. We were up at the lake, an upstate tradition, as you know. I don’t think the temperature hit 60 degrees. I wore two sweatshirts AT ONCE.

Yesterday was better, clear and cool and comfortable. But more spring weather than summer. I guess that’s OK, since the first day of summer technically isn’t until June 20, but will someone explain to me why we have to have 90 degree days during the workweek, but not the weekend?

Anyway. It’s going to be in the 70s again today – the high 70s, that is – with mostly sunny skies, and no rain in the forecast, according to The Weather Channel.

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which takes on a heightened importance given the disproportionate toll the novel coronavirus has taken on the globe’s elderly population. This isn’t abuse, I know, but it seems worth noting.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

Also, while they are likely significantly under-reported, estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually. Yet, financial exploitation is self-reported at rates higher than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.

And, Happy 245th Birthday to the U.S. Army.

In the headlines…

The death of Rayshard Brooks, a black man killed by a white police officer in Atlanta on Friday, was a homicide caused by gunshot wounds to the back, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said.

Brooks was shot after a confrontation with two Atlanta police officers in the parking lot. Police had been summoned there on a report of a man sleeping in his car in the drive-through, and Brooks struggled with the officers after they administered a field sobriety test and tried to take him into custody.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned over the shooting, saying “it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks, was fired. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty. Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Paul Howard said a decision on charges will be made “sometime around Wednesday.”

The Wendy’s where the shooting took place was set aflame on Saturday night, and in another part of the city, a major interstate was shut down after protesters marched onto a connector and were met by lined up police vehicles.

The fatal police shooting of Brooks in Atlanta has put a spotlight on a number of officer tactics, including the use of Tasers.

Disturbing new footage of George Floyd’s fatal encounter with Minneapolis police shows an officer ignoring onlookers’ pleas to intervene as now-fired cop Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.

After more than two weeks of demonstrations over the killing of Floyd, protesters across the country hope to combat fatigue and preserve the momentum of the movement that has so far spurred steps toward widespread police reforms.

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that required police departments and other law enforcement agencies to report to the federal government the death of any person who died in their custody. Six years later, the U.S. Department of Justice has still never begun collecting that data.

Following his signing of the state legislature’s police reform package on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on protesters to end their demonstrations. “You don’t need to protest, you won,” he said. “You accomplished your goal. Society says you’re right, the police need systemic reform.”

Cuomo last Friday signed what he called the “most aggressive” police reform legislative package in the nation in a move that makes officers more accountable and criminalizes chokeholds and other controversial restraints.

Then governor has pledged to withhold state funding from local police departments that do not submit proof by April 1 that they’ve worked with their communities to reconfigure their forces.

Cuomo said it’s unlikely that the state would completely zero-out local aid to communities. Some essential services, such as those dealing with public health, could continue to be funded, he said.

The governor erroneously listed police-brutality victim Abner Louima among those killed by cops over the years. Louima, 53, did not die during his 1997 ordeal in Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct station house.

Thousands of protesters — all dressed in white — gathered in Brooklyn yesterday afternoon to rally in support of the black transgender population.

Peaceful rallies against racism and police brutality also resumed across Long Island yesterday, almost three weeks after Floyd’s death in police custody sparked global protests.

Hundreds of people peacefully marched on Cohoes City Hall Saturday, demanding justice for black people who have died in police custody and additional accountability for law enforcement agencies in the Capital Region and across the country.

With people crowding together at demonstrations against police brutality, experts are concerned there could be a subsequent spike in Covid-19 cases.

An assistant fencing coach for St. John’s University was fired last week after making derogatory remarks about black people in a private lesson, including that they cause “the most trouble.”

Advocacy and voter-registration groups are gathering a trove of data from protests by tracking the cellphones of participants and sending them messages about registering to vote or taking other actions.

An estimated 450 businesses across New York City were vandalized and in some cases looted in late May and early June, according to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, though the department is still evaluating the damage and doesn’t yet have an estimate for the total cost.

As New York protesters calling for police reform continue to fill the streets, one harbinger of their political impact will be the Democratic primary for district attorney in Albany County. Incumbent David Soares faces a challenge from Matt Toporowski, a former assistant in the DA’s office.

An Albany police detective told the Times Union on Friday that he heard Toporowski use racial slurs against a biracial man during a 2013 incident in which Toporowski was the victim of an alleged assault, but there are conflicting accounts of this incident.

President Donald Trump faced new questions about his health, after videos emerged of him gingerly walking down a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and having trouble bringing a glass of water to his mouth during a speech there

During the speech, Trump attempted to drink a glass of water using his right hand, then appeared to need the support of his left hand to tip the glass to his mouth.

Trump claimed that the ramp had been steep and slippery, which forced him to walk slowly and unsteadily down it after his speech. (There was no evidence that the ramp was slippery, and the skies were clear during the ceremony).

Trump turned 74 yesterday, (which was also Flag Day), making him the oldest a U.S. president has been in his first term.

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, called for coronavirus relief efforts aimed at the unemployed to end in July, calling the $600 weekly payments being made as part of the benefits during coronavirus quarantines a “disincentive” that would hold people back from going back to work.

A top pandemic doctor warned Trump’s supporters to think twice about attending his reelection campaign rally in Oklahoma next weekend as allies struggled to stay on the right page about whether to wear face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus.

A second wave of coronavirus has started in the U.S. — and people need to remain careful or risk stressing out the health-care system again, said William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

As poor countries around the world struggle to beat back the coronavirus, they are unintentionally contributing to fresh explosions of illness and death from other diseases — ones that are readily prevented by vaccines.

Coronavirus continues to spread rapidly through Florida as stores, restaurants and theme parks reopen for business.

Three months after the cruise industry stopped sailing in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic, 40,000 crew members are still stranded at sea – unpaid, with some still testing positive for the pathogen.

New York is making “really great progress” in its fight against the coronavirus, Cuomo said, registering the lowest number of daily deaths since the pandemic started — but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the woods.

Cuomo said New York has “tamed the beast” of coronavirus after months of a difficult fight.

Areas including Manhattan and the Hamptons where businesses have been widely reported for violating social distancing rules could see their reopening plans “reversed,” Cuomo threatened, even as Saturday marked the lowest number of new COVID-19 deaths in the state since the peak of the nightmare in April.

“We have gotten 25,000 complaints to the state of businesses that are in violation of the reopening plan,” Cuomo said. “You’re violating the law alright, and this is a very serious situation and I want to make sure everybody knows the consequences here. A bar or restaurant that is violating these rules can lose their liquor license.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio fired back at Cuomo’s threat to shut down Manhattan again if the city didn’t enforce social-distancing better — saying through a rep that “imprisoning people” isn’t the answer.

Phase 3 of the state’s reopening process will allow “low-risk” youth sports – like baseball, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, cross country and crew – and a limited number of spectators, Cuomo said.

Western New York (the Buffalo area) and the Capital Region will enter Phase Three of reopening their economies by the middle of this week.

Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, has teamed up with Rep. Elise Stefanik, a prominent Republican congresswoman from the North Country, to pressure both the U.S. and Canadian governments to develop a plan to reopen the border between the two countries.

“Definitive answers won’t be known for years, but one thing is clear: His marathon media appearances both intensified my focus on Mr. Cuomo and deepened my understanding of him,” the NYT’s Albany Bureau Chief Jessie McKinley writes.

As restaurant owners restart dining rooms shut down during coronavirus outbreaks, they are rejiggering operations to maximize public health while still making diners feel welcomed.

Hotel general managers have to convince guests during a crucial wave of summer reopenings that their arsenal of cleaning fluids, electrostatic disinfectants, temperature-vetted employees, and social-distancing guidelines will keep everyone safe.

Auto makers are grappling with absent U.S. factory workers and Covid-19 cases at their reopened plants, complicating the companies’ efforts to recoup production lost to the pandemic.

New York officials are working to expand resources available to domestic violence survivors after abuse reports have dramatically increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

The family of a veteran PATH transit worker who died from coronavirus in April is suing the Port Authority, alleging that negligence by top honchos contributed to his death.

The MTA’s multimillion-dollar effort to shrink the homeless population in the city’s subways has been an expensive bust, the agency’s watchdog says in a damning new report.

Sunbathers flocked to Central Park’s Sheep Meadow to catch some rays yesterday, but many opted not to cover their faces — or much else, for that matter — despite the ongoing pandemic.

Some 10 percent of those cut free from Rikers Island due to coronavirus concerns since March have since been arrested — some multiple times.

Some motorists who ventured out during the outbreak’s early days were confronted with a different toll system in New York and are just now dealing with the fallout.

Almost three months after closing due to COVID-19, libraries across the region are initiating gradual reopenings that will get books into the hands of patrons — at least for a start — and inch toward more hours and services offered in actual, physical buildings.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced the city will begin preparations to open a number of public parks within the next few weeks. Lincoln Park, Arbor Hill, Mater Christi Pools and the city’s spray pads are expected to be open by Friday, July 3.

The city-owned Capital Hills at Albany golf course will reopen tomorrow, Sheehan said. (Details about hours and services will be released today).

Major League Baseball’s effort to peacefully negotiate with its players a return from the coronavirus shutdown has ground to a halt. Barring a last-minute reversal, it appears that fans will be left with a short, league-imposed 2020 season and a bitter labor dispute that could consume the sport for years.

Two individuals are in police custody after a car chase that stretched from Schenectady County to across the county line into Ballston Spa Saturday night.

An Albany father was charged Saturday night after accidentally shooting his 10-year-old daughter, police said. She is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

A man drowned yesterday while swimming in an unauthorized area in the Poestenkill Gorge, Troy police said.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is moving her New York residence out of the Capital Region. Gillibrand’s home in Rensselaer County is now on the market, and the senator hopes to move to the North Country, her office says.

The daughter of country music singer Hank Williams Jr., Katherine Williams-Dunning, 27, was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Tennessee, according to a report.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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