Rise and Shine: June 25, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers. It’s Thursday, and it’s also Anthony Bourdain Day.

For those not in the know, Bourdain was, in modern parlance, a celebrity chef. But, really, he was a lot more than that.

His breakout book, “Kitchen Confidential,” brought readers into the high-stress, high-stakes and often seedy underbelly of the restaurant industry.

Bourdain went on to host the award-winning CNN series “Parts Unknown,” which was based on a simply premise: We can understand one another a lot better, regardless of how unalike our respective global cultures, if we just eat together. (This was the fourth TV series for Bourdain, all of which focused on combining food and travel).

Bourdain lived life hard. He was never shy about making that fact known, embracing his “bad boy with a heart” persona. And he was a troubled individual, who committed suicide on June 8, 2018 at the age of 61 while working on an episode of his TV series in France.

Two of Bourdain’s friends and also some of the world’s most prominent chefs, Éric Ripert and José Andrés, subsequently declared June 25 – Bourdain’s Birthday – to be “Bourdain Day,” a day to remember and celebrate a larger-than-life figure.

Bourdain’s death struck a chord around the world. It very much saddened me, as I followed his career closely and enjoyed his writing immensely. He was raw, and real and entertaining and smart. I miss his voice, but in some ways, I’m glad he’s not around to see what’s happening in the world today, and the significant blow his former industry has taken as a result of the novel coronavirus crisis.

Also worth mentioning: It’s National Handshake Day, which is typically “celebrated” (because, really, it’s not a real thing) on the final Thursday in June. Given the ongoing pandemic, and the social distancing guidelines that will remain in place for who knows how long, the handshake might soon be a relic of the past.

It will be sunny early today, with afternoon clouds gathering. Temperatures will be in the mid-80s, according to The Weather Channel.

In the headlines…

Yesterday brought the highest number of new coronavirus cases that the U.S. has seen since the pandemic began, with 36,358 diagnoses in a single day. The June 24 record tops the previous high for daily cases, which was set on April 26, by 73.

“People got complacent,” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of the Houston Methodist hospital system. “And it’s coming back and biting us, quite frankly.”

Medical experts have cautioned those who appear to have immune system protections against reinfection for COVID-19 that they may not be invulnerable in the long term, as so much remains to be discovered about the virus.

Stocks fell sharply yesterday as the increasing number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases dampened expectations of an economic recovery.

The International Monetary Fund painted a bleak portrait of the global economy, saying the coronavirus pandemic has caused more widespread damage than expected and will be followed by a sluggish recovery. The global economy will shrink this year by 4.9 percent, worse than the 3 percent decline predicted in April, the IMF said.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits continues to slide, but not enough to ease fears that the nation’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be painfully slow. Between 1.3 million to 1.4 million people filed initial applications for unemployment insurance last week, economists estimate.

Virginia’s health and safety board voted to create workplace coronavirus safety rules, becoming the first state in the country to take steps toward creating such rules amid the pandemic that has infected more than 2 million people in the U.S.

Businesses from factories and offices to salons and bars, once hopeful about a smooth reopening this summer, are now grappling with whether to close, stay open or find some in-between as the number of cases of Covid-19 increases in dozens of states.

Disney is delaying the phased reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, the company’s flagship theme parks in California, the company said.

Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to an intensive care unit and put on a ventilator than are infected women who are not pregnant, according to a new government analysis.

Barnes & Noble said it has laid off a number of employees at its New York head office, a move the bookseller said was an effort to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than $16,000 has been raised through GoFundMe for a Starbucks employee after a customer posted on Facebook that the barista refused to serve her at a San Diego location because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

Despite dropping infection rates in the region, New York City Marathon organizers and city officials decided the risks of running a race with 50,000 participants were too high and cancelled the iconic race scheduled to take place Nov. 1.

The Berlin Marathon, another of the world’s big six running races, was also called off. It was scheduled to take place in late September.

Travelers arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from Florida, Texas and other states with spiking Covid-19 infections rates will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and fines if they don’t self-isolate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“We now have to make sure that the rate continues to drop,” Cuomo said. “A lot of people come into this region and they could literally bring the infection with them. It wouldn’t be malicious or malevolent, but it would still be real.”

Some eight states currently meet that “high infection” threshold: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas. The list of states subject to the quarantine will be updated regularly.

Cuomo says local governments have to enforce social distancing rules, whether they like it or not.

Mall operators and gym owners across the state reacted harshly to Cuomo’s decision — announced privately a day earlier in regional strategy meetings — that those businesses will remain closed as five upstate regions move into what was supposed to be the fourth and final phase of reopening.

The TU’s Chris Churchill says Cuomo has been “either evasive or untruthful” when answering questions about why nursing homes were forced to accept COVID-19 patients during the height of the pandemic in New York.

The governor and his daughters recollected for People magazine what it was like to quarantine together at the executive mansion in Albany.

More than 20,000 municipal employees across all city agencies could lose their jobs to create $1 billion in cuts needed to balance the budget with the Big Apple’s coronavirus-starved coffers, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. (Critics said the mayor should look to trim the “fat” from his budget before laying off workers).

“We are dealing with the greatest economic crisis this city has known in almost 90 years and we’re dealing with the greatest fiscal crisis that we’ve seen in generations,” the mayor said.

The alarms from New York officials reflect a broader political strategy — threatening deep cuts as part of their effort to pressure Washington to provide more assistance. And New York City’s predicament speaks to the dire fiscal situation of states and localities across the nation.

Protesters who have taken up residence outside City Hall in Lower Manhattan to call for a $1 billion cut to NYPD funding are free to stay, so long as they don’t set up any structures, a department chief said.

De Blasio officially announced beaches are reopening July 1.

MTA officials won’t commit to restoring 24-hour subway service, which ended in May so the system could be thoroughly cleaned and cleared of homeless people every night.

MTA officials also warned of massive spending cuts as the authority continues to hemorrhage billions of dollars due to the pandemic. They have already frozen billions of dollars of spending on improvements this year to two commuter railroads and New York City’s subway and buses while awaiting a federal bailout.

Twenty-two public library branches across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens will reopen for grab-and-go service beginning July 13.

Some criminal trials can be held again as the court system enters its next phase of reopening tomorrow after the COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread closures and a transition to virtual operations. But the trials can’t involve jailed defendants or juries.

U.S. Senate Democrats voted against opening debate on the GOP policing bill in an attempt to force Republicans into negotiations to craft a bipartisan solution.

A grand jury indicted three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot in February while jogging in the suspects’ coastal Georgia neighborhood, authorities announced.

Three police officers in North Carolina have been fired after they were heard on camera making racist comments, including the use of racial epithets and references to “slaughtering” Black people, police said.

The police chief of Tucson, Ariz., abruptly offered to resign while releasing a video in which a 27-year-old Latino man, Carlos Ingram Lopez, died in police custody two months ago.

The mother of “ER” actress Vanessa Marquez, who was shot by police at her home in 2018, filed a lawsuit against the city of South Pasadena.

The NYPD cop suspended for placing a suspect in an apparent chokehold in Queens is expected to be arrested today.

The Democratic National Convention will move out of Milwaukee’s professional basketball arena, and state delegations are being urged not to travel to the city because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, party officials said.

The Democratic convention will be “anchored” in Milwaukee, but the four-night mid-August event will “include both live broadcasts and curated content from Milwaukee and other satellite cities, locations and landmarks across the country,” party officials said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden still intends to travel to Milwaukee to accept his party’s presidential nomination, his campaign manager said, but neither his campaign nor the DNC has made firm commitments that Biden will attend.

Biden has taken a commanding lead over President Trump in the 2020 race, building a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters and making deep inroads with some traditionally Republican-leaning groups, according to a new national poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.

Trump vowed to put a stop to the vandalization of monuments honoring the Confederacy and other racist structures, fretting that effigies of Jesus Christ will otherwise be next.

U.S. Marshals have been told they should gear up to defend national monuments across the country, after several of the structures were toppled or vandalized during recent protests.

Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to native people.

A 37-year-old man was busted for scrawling “slave owner” on the George Washington statue in Manhattan’s Union Square Park, cops said.

Trump backs another round of coronavirus stimulus spending, but he is getting pushback from members of his party who are concerned about what it will mean for the government’s bottom line.

A divided federal appeals court ordered the dismissal of the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, likely concluding a long-running court fight that had taken on greater meaning in political debates.

…When a federal appellate panel sided with Bill Barr’s Justice Department in saying the Flynn charges should be tossed, it fueled the president’s narrative that Obama-era officials had unfairly targeted the retired general and that the FBI is out of control.

NYC is planning to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” in bold letters right in front of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan.

A strong showing by insurgent challengers made several primary contests for Congress and the state Legislature too close to call. Absentee ballots were expected to factor into who wins. The ballots, which many voters opted to use to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, won’t be counted for a week.

The lack of race results in New York and Kentucky this week is a prelude for the presidential election, as officials strain to deal with a deluge of absentee ballots and a jumble of voting deadlines.

Progressive insurgent Jamaal Bowman declared victory in his blockbuster primary battle against Rep. Eliot Engel and called on the longtime congressman to concede the race despite a cache of outstanding absentee ballots.

Engel’s apparent defeat will set off a scramble for the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship in the next Congress.

…And Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee, remains in a cliffhanger battle with Democratic challenger Suraj Patel, potentially putting another high-profile gavel in play.

Confusion at the polls resulted in hundreds of people casting ballots in a Serve America Movement party contest who were not enrolled party members.

Republican Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County executive and onetime gubernatorial candidate, announced his plans to run for the 40th state Senate seat, covering portions of Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties, which is currently held by freshman Democrat Peter Harckham.

The City Council is set to approve legislation today that will finally legalize electric bikes and scooters in New York City.

Three brazen shootings killed one man and wounded three other people, including a teenager, in Albany’s latest outbreak of violence.

The town of Colonie is implementing water restrictions, limiting when residents can water their lawns and wash their cars among other activities.

St. Peter’s Health Partners informed parents this week that it will close the Samaritan-Rensselaer Children’s Center this fall, a day care that has operated in Troy for more than 30 years.

Facing mounting complaints about abusive behavior and unfair treatment of Black staff members, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, Laura McQuade, has been ousted from her job.

Consumer groups and at least one state senator are blasting a decision by state regulators to allow the gas and electric utility NYSEG to raise its rates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The watchdog group Consumer Reports is warning Whole Foods customers about concerning levels of arsenic found in that company’s bottled water.

NASA will name its headquarters in Washington, D.C. after Mary Jackson, the agency’s first black female engineer and one of the women spotlighted in the 2016 book and movie “Hidden Figures.”

Darrell Wallace Jr. said he was relieved to hear the F.B.I. say he had not been the target of a hate crime at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend, after a noose hanging in his garage stall was found to have been there since at least last fall. But the industry’s troubles with racism remain.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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