Rise and Shine: June 30, 2020

Good Tuesday morning, CivMixers. It’s the last day of June, and we are rushing toward July 4th weekend at warp speed.

At some point during the height of the pandemic lockdown, time seemed to stand still. Every day bled into the one before, and seemed to last an eternity. Somehow, time has sped back up again, and is now moving along to quickly I feel like I’m sprinting to catch up.

Yeah, it has been one of those weeks already.

The mark the end of June, which, as you know, has been Pride month, the Google Doodle is honoring the late activist Marsha P. Johnson, who was at the center of New York City’s gay liberation movement for more than two decades.

Johnson was a self-identified drag queen and a sex worker who suffered form mental illness whose dead body was found floating in the Hudson River in July 1992. The circumstances of her death remain unclear. New York police ruled the death a suicide and didn’t investigate.

She was also one of the most significant activists for transgender rights, though nobody called it that in her day, played a key role in the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969 and helped found the group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which offered housing to homeless and transgender youth.

Johnson and her friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera not only created the first LGBT youth shelter in North America, but also the first organization in the United States led by trans women of color. New York City plans to build statues in their honor in Greenwich Village.

Today is also World Social Media Day, created in 2010 by Mashable to recognize social media’s impact on global communication, and to bring the world together to celebrate it.

But isn’t that every day, though?

We’re in for more rain and scattered thunderstorms today, and again, it will be on the cooler side with temperatures just shy of 80 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.

In the headlines…

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court stood by its most recent abortion-rights precedent, delivering a major defeat to abortion opponents who had hoped for a reversal of fortunes at the court with the addition of two new Trump-appointed justices.

As with other recent liberal victories at the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. added his crucial fifth vote to those of the court’s four-member liberal wing, saying that respect for precedent compelled him to do so, even though he had voted to uphold an essentially identical Texas law in a 2016 dissent.

“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike,” Roberts wrote in concurring with the decision. “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

The court was similarly divided – 5-4 – in a ruling that put the brakes on Congress’ attempt to limit the president’s power to remove executive branch officials in a win for President Trump.

The Supreme Court ordered changes to a government consumer-finance watchdog created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, capping a 10-year battle over the agency by ruling its structure was unconstitutional because the director held too much unchecked power.

Chinese scientists are now raising alarms about a newly discovered flu virus carried by pigs that has the potential to trigger a global outbreak.

The deadline for a crucial coronavirus lifeline for small businesses struggling over the pandemic – the PPP program – is quickly approaching, with billions of dollars still on the table.

A surge in new coronavirus cases and rising hospitalization rates in states such as California and Texas are jeopardizing reopening plans elsewhere, while other countries are struggling to stop clusters of infections from spreading.

Fourteen people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Westchester County — a cluster likely sparked after two families traveled to Florida then attended a graduation ceremony in the suburban New York county, officials said.

In an about-face, Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered the state’s bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to shut down for at least 30 days amid thousands of new coronavirus cases in the state.

Only a few weeks ago, thousands of Southern Californians were flocking to beaches, Disneyland was announcing it would soon reopen and Whoopi Goldberg was lauding Gov. Gavin Newsom on “The View” for the state’s progress in combating the coronavirus. The worst, many in California thought, was behind them. But its case count has since exploded.

Los Angeles is shutting its beaches for the holiday weekend around Independence Day as the number of new coronavirus cases spikes, county officials said.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy protection after its global shows were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced.

On the heels of delays for two blockbuster releases, AMC Theaters has decided to delay its own reopening plans by two weeks. Where once they were planning for a mid-July opening, the country’s largest chain announced that it would hopefully reopen 450 theaters on July 30, with 150 joining in the following week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s considering postponing the reopening of indoor dining and retail malls in New York City over concerns about triggering another flare-up in coronavirus cases.

The reopening of indoor dining at restaurants at 50 percent capacity and malls is scheduled to start in the city next Monday, July 6. New Jersey’s governor has postponed a return to indoor dining indefinitely as virus cases surge across the U.S.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “My view is we can go into Phase Three on all the other fronts. We can do that effectively, we can do the outdoor dining on a much bigger scale. But the indoor we really need to examine closely and come to a decision in the next couple of days.”

The announcement by the governors stunned restaurant owners, whose businesses have been decimated by the pandemic. Many restaurants have been preparing to reopen by expanding their staffs and increasing inventory as they struggle to recover financially.

Cuomo called on Trump, who consistently has refused to wear a mask in public, to “put a mask on it” and sign an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in public.

Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August. The president has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.

Travelers from eight additional states — including California — could soon be added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s mandatory quarantine order, which would push the total to 16 states representing nearly half the country’s population.

If they want to fully reopen, New York malls will be required to use specialized air filters for their air conditioning systems to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Cuomo displayed a large plastic foam mountain at his coronavirus briefing in Manhattan, calling it a visualization of the state’s efforts to flatten and bend the COVID-19 curve after getting hit harder by the virus than any other state.

“We don’t need to climb another mountain,” Cuomo said. “One mountain was enough. We don’t want to climb a mountain range…We don’t want to do it again.” (He was roundly mocked by some corners of the Twitterverse).

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy called on state legislators to rein in Cuomo’s executive powers that were granted in April as the state declared a state of emergency to deal with response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor finally guaranteed that the nightly shutdowns of the subway would eventually end, easing the concerns of some straphangers who worried the closures would continue even after the pandemic is over.

The New York Public Library’s iconic stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, have been given their own massive face masks — in a reminder to patrons that face coverings must be worn when the library begins to ease back into service next month after being closed due to the coronavirus.

A study led by the state Department of Health on children who developed severe inflammatory symptoms at the height of New York’s coronavirus pandemic suggests the symptoms were related to the virus.

New Yorkers looking to flock to the city’s most beloved beaches for the weekend gave a sigh of relief when the National Park Service announced it would restaff Jacob Riis Park with lifeguards starting July 1 — and all others that are federally-controlled.

Workers at JFK Airport can now get tested for the coronavirus on-site — at the first airport COVID-19 clinic in the nation, the Port Authority announced.

Medics who came from other states to help New York as the coronavirus ravaged the city in March found themselves under constant GPS surveillance by the company they worked for — and even had their sex lives restricted by their employer, according to a class action lawsuit filed in Brooklyn.

De Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson are reportedly finalizing an $87 billion budget deal that would avoid municipal layoffs while slicing $1 billion from the Police Department’s budget through transfers and spending cuts.

After weeks of demands that City Hall make significant cuts to the NYPD’s budget, the mayor touted a range of cuts to the NYPD but said New York could still be forced to lay off municipal workers as early as October.

De Blasio’s plan to cancel two police academy classes and move school safety agents and some homeless services out of the NYPD’s hands doesn’t go far enough, activists said.

Top state lawmakers blasted de Blasio for badly misplaying his hand in Albany as they nixed City Hall’s bid to borrow as much as $5 billion over the next two years to help paper-over coronavirus budget deficits.

De Blasio pledged to stop using solitary confinement in the city’s jail system, marking a victory for criminal-justice reform advocates who have long argued the practice is inhumane.

The pandemic, which has taken away so much already, has created new challenges for public places that are, by design, meant to be shared by everyone, and are central to cities like New York, where limited space forces people together.

Macy’s kicked off six nights of fireworks shows across New York City last night, with brief pyrotechnic launches scheduled for different neighborhoods each night.

Even Cuomo, who has been living at the executive mansion in Albany, can’t catch a good night’s sleep because of all the illegal fireworks going off, he said.

The Albany County Legislature will push to repeal the county law legalizing “sparklers” in response to growing complaints about fireworks being set off in neighborhoods around the county.

Broadway will remain closed for at least the rest of this year, and many shows are signaling that they do not expect a return to the stage until late winter or early spring.

NYC will reopen barbecue areas at parks in time for the upcoming Independence Day weekend.

The city Board of Elections has already received more absentee ballots to decide the nail-biting Democratic primary race between veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney and rival Suraj Patel than from constituents who voted in person, according to data posted yesterday.

After the count of ballots cast in person last week, insurgent Democrats were poised to topple or succeed longtime incumbents. Many of the challengers are candidates of color; many of the incumbents are white.

The Democratic primary between Albany County District Attorney David Soares and challenger Matthew Toporowski may not be decided until mid-July.

Phase IV of the. reopening process starts in the Capital Region tomorrow.

A collective of gyms across New York is preparing to file a class action lawsuit against the state for not letting them reopen as originally planned.

…The gyms are looking for clarification from the governor on a number of topics, including a potential July 6th start date for gyms that have outside areas.

The YMCA of the Capital District has laid off 1,426 employees due to its gym closures. J. David Brown, the nonprofit’s president and CEO, said he wants to bring as many people back as soon as possible – once Cuomo allows health clubs to reopen.

The parent company of St. Peter’s Health Partners, which employs thousands of people at local hospitals and physician practices, informed employees that job cuts, extended furloughs and schedule reductions are necessary in the wake of pandemic-driven revenue losses.

After announcing a series of street and lane closures to accommodate expanded outdoor dining that all were to have started June 19, the city has clarified details and offered another implementation timeline.

Stewart’s Shops is celebrating National Ice Cream month with 50 cent, single-scoop cones tomorrow, July 1.

Claiming a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech, a Wilton woodworker is fighting to return a 7-foot pine penis sculpture to his front lawn.

The Niskayuna Town Board is considering creating a task force on racial equity and justice.

More than a month since the protests first began in reaction to George Floyd’s death, as police reforms begin in New York and cities across the country, the question has loomed for marchers and those who watch them: Now what?

The judge overseeing the case against four former Minneapolis police officers in the death of Floyd told lawyers and local officials to be careful about what they say, warning that too much publicity could make it difficult to choose an impartial jury.

Trump retweeted a video yesterday morning of a white man and woman brandishing a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun at peaceful black protesters in St. Louis over the weekend, amplifying a surreal scene that embodied the racial divisions roiling the country.

The white couple that was seen in viral footage over the weekend pointing guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis said that they were afraid for their lives.

Ford Motor Co., Clorox Co., and Denny’s Corp. are joining a parade of companies that have moved to halt advertising spending on Facebook because of how the social-media giant has handled speech on its platforms.

Top U.S. intelligence officials released statements criticizing leaks to the media as the Trump administration continues to defend against allegations that it knew Russia had offered bounties to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan.

American officials provided a written briefing in late February to Trump laying out their conclusion that a Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, two officials familiar with the matter said.

North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik was one of a small number of Republicans to participate in a White House briefing in the wake of published reports alleging that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troops.

The Trump administration placed new restrictions on U.S. exports of defense equipment and certain high-technology products to Hong Kong in response to a new Chinese law aimed at tightening Beijing’s control over the territory.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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