Rise and Shine: June 18, 2020

Good Thursday morning, CivMixers.

It’s Autistic Pride Day, which was established to raise awareness and celebrate both the similarities and the uniqueness of people with autism. The day was started in 2005 by a group that called itself Aspies for Freedom. It quickly became a global event, with events (usually) held both in-person and online.

Worldwide, more than 25 million people are estimated to be impacted by autism. Approximately 1 in 59 children are on the spectrum, according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. By 2025, the cost of caring for Americans with autism is projected to rise to $461 billion.

Learn more here.

The traditional recognition of Autistic Pride Day is the donning of an infinity rainbow pin or ribbon for autism awareness. There’s some nice symmetry here, as rainbows are kind of having a moment these days.

It’s going to be another stunner of a day, with temperatures reaching into the high 80s and a mix of sun and clouds, according to The Weather Channel. It’s going to be perfect weather, in other words, for celebrating International Picnic Day. Get out there and have a snack while soaking up some healthy Vitamin D.

Oh, and if you happen to run into Sir Paul McCartney today, wish him a happy 78th birthday.

In the headlines…

Officer Garrett Rolfe, 27, the white cop who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s in Atlanta — and then kicked the unarmed black man as he lay dying on the ground — was charged with felony murder and 10 other charges.

…this makes Rolfe the second white officer to face murder charges after violent encounters with black men during the weeks of nationwide protests touched off by the police killing of George Floyd.

Howard said the second officer involved in Brooks’ death, Devin Brosnan, 26, will face three charges, including aggravated assault — but will testify against Rolfe, the first time an Atlanta cop has crossed the thin blue line.

The Atlanta Police Department said it experienced “a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift” after the announcement of charges against Rolfe.

The half-brother of Robert Fuller — the black man found hanging from a tree in California last week — was reportedly fatally shot by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies yesterday, the family’s attorney said.

Under immense pressure to overhaul Police Department tactics and curb the department’s authority, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of significant changes in the way the nation’s largest police force will discipline its officers.

U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled proposed changes to police procedures and accountability, countering Democrats’ far-reaching overhaul with a more modest package but one that underscores how swiftly the national debate on race has been transformed five months before elections.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone denounced calls to defund police in response to the death of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis, saying that while he understands the calls for reform, police are on the front lines daily and that crime has not gone away.

Five years after the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, officials in Charleston, S.C., announced a plan to remove a monument to the prominent slavery defender John C. Calhoun.

Several American civil-rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, are encouraging big advertisers to pull spending from Facebook Inc. to protest what they say is the company’s failure to make its platform a less-hostile place.

The PepsiCo unit that sells Aunt Jemima products said it would retire the brand because of its origins in racist imagery. Hours later, Mars said it would change its Uncle Ben’s brand, and two more big food companies said they would review the packaging long used by Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s products.

Google announced a new hiring goal to dramatically boost the number of black executives at the search giant.

President Trump asked several foreign countries to help him get re-elected, gave “personal favors to dictators” and was mocked as sophomoric and “full of s–t” by top aides behind his back, according to a blistering new book by former national security adviser John Bolton.

The Justice Department last night sought an emergency order from a judge to block the publication of Bolton’s forthcoming White House memoir, even after many of the book’s most explosive details had spilled out into public view.

According to the court filing, security officials at the Department of National Intelligence and other intelligence agencies believe the manuscript contains classified information.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asserted that “the nation’s security” would be at risk if Bolton’s White House tell-all were published as is.

Trump himself called Bolton a “liar” who “broke the law” in response to the unflattering allegations against the president detailed in his former national security advisor’s forthcoming book.

The Justice Department has also proposed a rollback of legal protections that online platforms have enjoyed for more than two decades, in an effort to make tech companies more responsible in how they police their content.

The federal government’s leadership in the coronavirus crisis has so faded that state and local health officials have been left to figure out on their own how to handle rising infections and to navigate conflicting signals from the White House.

Just days before Trump was set to hold an enormous indoor rally expected to bring tens of thousands of people to the city, officials in Tulsa, Oklahoma announced 96 new cases of the coronavirus, the largest single-day increase in the city since March. (New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik will be one of the “warm-up” speakers at the event).

China worked swiftly to plug the spread of coronavirus out of Beijing, reportedly putting a stop to more than 60 percent of flights into and out of the capital city after dozens of new cases cropped up.

In updated guidance issued yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shot down the possibility of coronavirus antibody tests becoming a requirement in the workplace.

Multiple companies have announced that they will either honor or recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their employees this year, as a sign of support for the Black community.

Grammy Award-winning hip-hop icon Pharrell Williams was on hand for a news conference with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to announce plans to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates the actual date in 1865 when African Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally learned — more than 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation — that slavery was officially over, Juneteenth is traditionally celebrated annually on June 19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will sign an executive order that would make Juneteenth a holiday for state employees, also saying that he will “propose legislation” to make it a state holiday for next year.

Juneteenth “commemorates the emancipation of slavery in the United States,” Cuomo told reporters. “It is a day that we should all reflect upon. It’s a day that’s especially relevant in this moment and history.”

On June 10, a bill was introduced in the Assembly to make Juneteenth a public holiday to “acknowledge and reflect on a day that changed the trajectory of the lives of most Blacks and African Americans being held as slaves in the U.S.”

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan also signed an executive order proclaiming Juneteenth a holiday in the city.

Cuomo said that the federal government is making a “historic mistake” in advising some states to reopen despite rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

The New York City panel that sets rents for the roughly 2.3 million residents of rent-regulated apartments yesterday froze those rents for a year, delivering a slight reprieve to tenants struggling in the worst economy in decades.

…The historic low increases for rent stabilized tenants, beginning Oct. 1, will be 0 percent for one-year leases; for two-year leases, there’ll be a 0 percent increase for the first year and 1 percent for the second year.

A law affecting rents paid by 2 million New York City tenants expired late Monday as state lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on extending it before a midnight deadline.

Cuomo signed off on a slate of coronavirus-related bills meant to aid New Yorkers hardest hit by the crisis — including a controversial measure providing rent relief to a limited number of tenants impacted by the pandemic.

New York City will be ready to enter Phase 2 on Monday, June 22, Cuomo said, in contrast to de Blasio, who said he didn’t see the city being ready until early July.

…De Blasio also said that the decision would be “made closely with the state,” but barely two hours later, the state (well, the governor) made the decision.

Broadly, restaurants across the state in phase two of reopening can offer outdoor dining, but NYC officials have not clarified whether restaurants in the city will be able to offer outdoor seating from Monday as well.

Nassau and Suffolk counties are poised to enter Phase III of the reopening process.

Cuomo said it’s too early to say whether schools can reopen with in-person learning in the fall.

Cuomo signed a bill into law that guarantees schools will not lose state funding due to COVID-19 closures.

New York state lawmakers have given little support to New York City’s plans to borrow up to $7 billion to fill revenue gaps, hindering de Blasio’s efforts to reach a budget deal by the end of the month.

After more than 100 days of daily press briefings, Cuomo is bringing the tradition to an end this Friday (tomorrow), pledging on Twitter: “Going forward I’ll provide briefings as needed. You can be sure I’ll continue to give you the facts as I have them.”

After promising to get tested for weeks, de Blasio finally had a coronavirus swab after he took a sick day earlier this week — and the results are negative.

The city and state severely shortchanged a federally mandated program designed to protect nursing home residents, leading to the disproportionate death toll of elderly New Yorkers from the coronavirus, a new report by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer charges.

As New York seeks to recover from the economic turmoil of COVID-19, thousands of nonprofits that receive state funding are facing financial uncertainty, including many serving low-income families.

Twenty campgrounds and day-use areas will open tomorrow across the state, including several in the Adirondacks and Catskills regions, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said.

The NYPD’s chief of detectives, Rodney Harrison, released a video of several assaults on officers during the recent unrest in the city amid protests over the death of George Floyd.

Most NYPD officers of color share the protesters’ mission to defeat racism, but the unrest has reminded them that they are still often seen as the enemy.

State Attorney General Letitia James heard from protesters and other New Yorkers who weighed in on the recent interactions between police and the public amid mostly peaceful protests against police brutality.

Only about 9 percent of demonstrators protesting Floyd’s killing in New York City came from outside the five boroughs, according to a location-based study.

More than 400 current and former Success Academy charter school students, staff and parents took to social media in the wake of Floyd’s death under the banner “survivors of Success Academy” to share stories of both overt and subtle racism, according to the organizers of the Instagram page.

Prestigious all-girls schools, including Brearley and Chapin, have been rocked by allegations of racism made by generations of black graduates on Instagram.

The 20-year-old protester who was called a “bitch” and shoved to the ground by an NYPD officer in a now-viral moment called for the officer’s firing as she slammed others officers and their supervisor who “kept walking” while she lay on the ground.

The Regional Plan Association released its vision for a 425-mile network of protected bike lanes that would connect people across New York City’s five boroughs.

Last summer the mayor’s advisory group on school diversity called for an end to the entry test for New York City gifted programs that start in kindergarten, saying the admissions process often segregates children by race and class. But newly released documents show the city Department of Education is planning another round of the test.

Congress and the Trump administration, in their bid to funnel more than $650 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses struggling through the pandemic, delivered a program – the Paycheck Protection Program – that didn’t work for many that needed it.

Both Regal and Cinemark announced they would start showing movies this month and next, introducing options such as cash-free online transactions, staggered showtimes, reduced theater capacity, a lot of cleaning and other measures to decontaminate surfaces and ensure social distancing protocols.

Target said it is raising its minimum wage for U.S. hourly workers to $15 beginning July 5. The increase is for all U.S. hourly full-time and part-time team members at stores, distribution centers and headquarters locations.

Bankrupt department store chain J.C. Penney has kicked off liquidation sales at 136 locations across the country, as it has been able to reopen many locations with local lockdown restrictions easing during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Sullivan, Ulster, Greene and Delaware Counties, urbanites with the wherewithal to venture beyond the city are snapping up primary and weekend houses, many in what real estate sales agents say is a financial sweet spot from $200,00 to $450,000.

The Schenectady Police Department is considering partnering with Union College to teach police officers about the history of racism and offering a chance for city residents to ride along with patrol officers.

The Albany Community Police Review Commission Board may get new powers.

The chair of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee is calling for the resignation of Carl Zeilman from either his chairmanship of the county’s Republican Committee or from his position as the county’s Commissioner of Emergency Services.

A Town of Niskayuna employee is suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by outside legal counsel into claims the staffer posted a picture in blackface on Facebook, Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed said in a statement.

Despite having an extra week to mail in ballots, the Saratoga Parents for Safer School said their three board candidates were at a disadvantage because the Saratoga Springs school district did not provide ballot drop boxes in Wilton and Greenfield.

School districts across the region and state overwhelmingly saw their spending plans approved by voters with large margins in an unprecedented budget vote conducted entirely by mail, which produced a record-shattering response.

With the Democratic primary for Albany County district attorney less than a week away, Matthew Toporowski has a war chest approaching $75,000 – nearly nine times the amount shown for incumbent David Soares.

Disgraced ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver deserves seven years in prison for taking illicit legal fees and money laundering, federal prosecutors told a judge.

…That sentence would be the same as what Manhattan Federal Court Judge Valerie Caproni imposed at Silver’s last sentencing hearing in July 2018, before appeals judges tossed a big part of Silver’s conviction.

Capital Region Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko has called on two NOAA officials to “publicly apologize or resign” after an independent investigation found they violated the agency’s scientific integrity policy last year when they corroborated Trump’s misstatement about the path of a hurricane hitting the Gulf coast.

Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer both endorsed embattled Bronx/Westchester Rep. Eliot Engel, who is facing the toughest Democratic primary challenge in his political career from Bronx middle school principal Jamaal Bowman.

Engel, 73, seems to be the party’s most vulnerable incumbent in the nation at the moment, a potential victim of its emboldened left wing, which has grown impatient with the establishment politics that he seems to represent.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has put her Rensselaer County home on the market, is reportedly looking to buy a new place in Lake Placid.

Actor Danny Masterson, who starred in “That ’70s Show,” has been charged with raping three women in the early 2000s, the Los Angeles County District Attorney said.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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