Good morning, CivMixers, and welcome to Wednesday.
Today is National Eat Your Veggies Day, which also happens to coincide with the national days dedicated to apple strudel and cherry tart. There’s something so deliciously incongruous there, don’t you think?
Anyway, if ever you needed convincing that Mom was right, and you should indeed be eating your peas…and your carrots…and your broccoli…and your kale, consider this passage from a 2019 New York Times story:
“In one of the largest surveys of data on global dietary habits and longevity, researchers found that consuming vegetables, fruit, fish and whole grains was strongly associated with a longer life — and that people who skimped on such healthy foods were more likely to die before their time.”
And if you’re the sort of person who goes in for this sort of thing, here’s a link to the study in question.
Two historical events of note today:
On this day in 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Wilmer Stultz piloted the Fokker F.VII aircraft, and Earhart kept the flight log. They arrived at Burry Port in Wales, the United Kingdom, 20 hours and 40 minutes later.
Also on this day in 1885, hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered to welcome the Statue of Liberty to New York. She was a gift to the United States from the people of France, and has become one of the country’s most recognized symbols.
Also worth noting, given the current state of affairs in the nation: On this day in 2012, Rodney King, an African American construction worker who was beaten by LAPD officers after a 1991 high-speed chase during his arrest for drunk driving, died.
The outcome of the case against the four officers, three of them white, involved in the King police brutality incident – three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict on the last – touched off six days of riots in LA.
King was found dead in his swimming pool at the age of 47, two months after publishing his memoir; the coroner found evidence of alcohol and other drugs in his system and ruled these and his history of heart problems had likely resulted in an accidental drowning.
We’re in for “abundant sunshine” and temperatures in the high 80s today, according to The Weather Channel.
In the headlines…
New coronavirus infections hit record highs in six U.S. states yesterday – Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Nevada – marking a rising tide of cases for a second consecutive week as most states moved forward with reopening their economies.
Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could climb past 200,000 by October, according to the latest projections.
How do you catch Covid? Surface contamination and fleeting encounters are less of a worry than close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods, experts increasingly agree.
In an unexpected sign of hope amid the expanding pandemic, scientists at the University of Oxford said an inexpensive and commonly available drug reduced deaths in patients with severe Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
…If the finding is borne out, the drug, a steroid called dexamethasone, would be the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, which the WHO called “great news.”
The FDA’s abrupt decision this week to revoke an emergency waiver for two malaria drugs promoted by Trump as potential “game changers” against the coronavirus has left 66 million doses stranded in the federal stockpile — and officials do not yet know what they will do with them.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, is receiving treatment and will work remotely and through his aides, he said late yesterday.
Retail sales rebounded sharply in May as thousands of stores and restaurants reopened after lockdowns were lifted and federal stimulus checks and tax refunds fueled a burst of spending, a sign that the United States economy is lurching back to life.
…The 17.7 percent rise in sales reported yesterday is the largest monthly surge on record, but the underlying data presents a more complicated picture for the post-pandemic economic recovery.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that the economic road ahead remains long and uncertain with 20 million jobs lost since February, a reported unemployment rate at 13.3 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression, and $6.5 trillion in household wealth gone in the first quarter.
Two surveys out this week from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a jump in optimism from manufacturers across New York state, and a slowing rate of contraction in the hard-hit service sector in New York state and northern New Jersey.
State tax receipts were down 9 percent or $766.9 million in May because of the economic shutdown aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared that New York’s phased reopening is controlling the spread of virus and the state has “the lowest rate of transmission of any state.”
Cuomo, who has held daily news briefings for 100 days straight due to the pandemic, acknowledged that at some point, that practice will end.
At first, people delayed medical care for fear of catching Covid. But as the pandemic caused staggering unemployment, medical care has become unaffordable for many.
Visitors will be allowed to return to hospitals and group homes across New York starting this week.
The head of a medical society that represents nursing homes and other long-term care facilities accused New York officials of ignoring the industry’s advice before issuing that fateful March 25 mandate from the state Department of Health.
After three Republican members of Congress charged that Cuomo was needlessly delaying distributing Medicaid funding to New York counties, the administration announced it will soon hand out the money.
Cuomo signed an executive order lifting the indoor crowd limit from 10 to 25 for Phase III regions, citing New Yorkers’ sustained progress in fighting back a disease that has seen new life in nearly half of America’s states.
The Capital Region enters Phase III of the reopening process today, which includes indoor dining for restaurants and personal care businesses such as nail salons, spas, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors.
The city of Saratoga Springs is allowing restaurants and businesses more sidewalk space in which to operate.
New York City residents are already pouring into the streets to eat, drink and protest but Mayor Bill de Blasio still won’t say when the reopening will reach Phase Two — or detail other key plans for summer heat relief, business operation and transportation.
“Phase two, as everyone knows, could be as early as June 22,” de Blasio told reporters. “I think it’s going to take a little longer than that just to make sure we’re absolutely certain.”
Some New York City business owners, desperate for revenue months into the coronavirus pandemic, are bending or breaking the rules limiting restaurants and retail stores to takeout or curbside pickup.
Dozens of defiant parents and children fed up with the coronavirus quarantine took back several parks and playgrounds in Brooklyn after rebellious community leaders and elected officials cut the locks and chains on gates that had kept them closed for months.
As coronavirus lockdowns ease, fears of Gotham – once the hot zone of the coronavirus – are keeping many people from New Jersey who once frequented the city or worked there away.
The main hurdle for holding the U.S. Open as scheduled beginning Aug. 31 in New York City was cleared, as Cuomo said the state is satisfied with the U.S. Tennis Association’s plan to put on the event with strict health and safety protocols to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
…the Open will be held without fans present.
Also occurring without fans present: The traditional July 4th Nathan’s hot-dog eating contest.
NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum will shut its doors indefinitely as billionaire operator Mikhail Prokhorov seeks investors to take over the lease of the 13,000-seat venue and assume the remaining $100 million in debt, a Prokhorov spokeswoman said.
Claims that Shake Shack workers poisoned the milkshakes of NYPD officers intentionally proved to be unfounded, (the faulty cleaning of the milkshake machine may have been the cause), but the ensuing uproar underscored a tense new dynamic.
De Blasio labeled one of the city’s largest police unions as “racist” while discussing how the NYPD found “no criminality” behind the tainted milkshakes that sickened three cops.
The mayor’s threat to rein in the free-speech rights of the city’s police unions is little more than “bluster” and is “legally baseless,” experts on the First Amendment said.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will create a national system for police departments to report “instances of excessive use of force.”
…While striking a conciliatory tone at times, the president firmly expressed support for law-enforcement personnel, saying only a “tiny” percentage abuse power and rejected calls to strip police departments’ funding.
As part of a wave of law-enforcement reforms, the New York Police Department will release body-camera footage that captures an officer discharging a gun or Taser, de Blasio announced.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea signaled that he’s open to the department ending its role in school safety enforcement — less than a week after de Blasio said cops should stay in schools.
Gregory Floyd, the Teamsters Local 237 president who represents 6,000 mostly minority NYPD school safety agents, said Council Speaker Corey Johnson was “being a racist” after failing to consult the union leader about a plan to slash the police budget by $1 billion and potentially remove the police from overseeing school security.
The NYPD released a pair of police videos from the George Floyd protests in Brooklyn where a cop pulled down a protester’s mask — as he stood with his hands in the air — and pepper-sprayed him in the face.
Construction of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was controversial and helped displace hundreds of residents and businesses, but its plaza has become a town square amid the local Black Lives Matter movement.
The Albany Common Council unanimously passed a resolution renaming Livingston Park in West Hill, Black Lives Matter Park, in honor of Juneteenth.
An Averill Park man spotted with others in military-style body armor and bullet proof vests at a June 7 Troy Rally for Black Lives was arraigned in City Court on 19 weapons counts that accuse him of having two assault-style AR-15 rifles with live ammunition and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his truck, authorities said.
Homeless-related problems on the subway have more than halved since the MTA began closing the system down every night amid the coronavirus crisis.
A career criminal with more than 100 arrests to his name was busted for cruelly shoving a 92-year-old woman into a Manhattan fire hydrant — leaving his victim too scared to walk alone in her own neighborhood.
Capital Region school districts’ 2020-21 spending plans saw wide success in unprecedented all-mail-in balloting yesterday. Several districts, primarily the larger ones, were still counting and didn’t expect to have results until today.
Forty three school districts across Long Island approved budgets as of late yesterday, most by lopsided margins, even as other systems regionwide continued tallying what was described by many as a flood of mail-in ballots.
Supporters of Mohammed Hossain, the Albany pizza maker who went to federal prison for nearly 15 years after being caught up in a 2004 anti-terrorism sting orchestrated by the FBI, came together last night to welcome him home.
The Trump administration sued the former national security adviser John R. Bolton to try to delay publication of his highly anticipated memoir about his time in the White House, saying the book contained classified information that would compromise national security if it became public.
Facebook said it would allow people in the United States to opt out of seeing social issue, electoral or political ads from candidates or political action committees in their Facebook or Instagram feeds.
PG&E Corp. pleaded guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter for its role in sparking California’s deadliest wildfire, on the same day that a separate judge said he would clear the way for the company to exit bankruptcy.
House Democrats announced that they will hold a vote on D.C. statehood next week — in what likely will be the first time a chamber of Congress approves making the nation’s capital city the 51st state.
The GOP-backing husband of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic primary challenger Michelle Caruso-Cabrera has been pumping money into a Super PAC intended to end the freshman firebrand’s congressional career at one term, campaign records reveal.
The top assistant to Albany County District Attorney David Soares confirmed that he suspended Matthew Toporowski, a challenger of Soares in next week’s Democratic primary, for a week in the spring of 2014 and personally asked for his resignation a year later.
State Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan announced he will be stepping down as a state legislator effective June 28 to take a job with Northwell Health.
Photo credit: George Fazio.