Rise and Shine, June 4, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers. It’s Thursday.

A lot of us who have been working from home as a result of the pandemic have had an opportunity to forge extra strong bonds with our pets. Sometimes mine is the only thing that gets me through the day…I can’t simply give up because he needs walks, and pets, and treats.

It’s National Hug Your Cat Day, if you happen to be one of those folks who’s more inclined toward the feline spectrum of pet ownership.

And if you don’t have a cat, but wish you did, you’re in luck, because it’s also Adopt A Cat Month, (because kitten season), although some shelters reportedly have been experiencing a shortage of furry friends due to a rush on adoptions as a result of the lockdown.

It’s going to be a hot one, with temperatures reaching up close to 80 degrees today, and mostly sunny skies, according to The Weather Channel.

In the headlines…

Across the United States, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered yesterday for a ninth night to call for police accountability and justice for George Floyd.

More than 10,000 people have been arrested in protests decrying racism and police brutality in the wake ofFloyd’s death, according to an Associated Press tally of known arrests across the U.S.

Earlier in the day, Minnesota prosecutors added a second-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and charged three more former officers in Floyd’s death.

State Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the new charges as outrage and civil unrest has now spread to all 50 states, linking Floyd’s murder to a long history of police brutality involving unarmed black citizens.

The three former Minneapolis cops charged as accomplices in Floyd’s death while in police custody have all been taken into custody themselves.

Prosecutors will face a challenging legal battle in pursuing criminal charges against the Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s killing.

President Donald Trump is facing an unprecedented revolt from the elite corps of ex-military leaders and presidents over his brazen response to mass protests and inflaming of racial divides.

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Trump’s Syria policy, denounced the president for for dividing the nation, and accused him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has reversed course and decided not to return active-duty troops to their home bases after they were deployed near Washington for possible action in suppressing violent protests.

Former President Barack Obama addressed Americans peacefully protesting the death of Floyd nationwide, saying he felt they were bringing genuine change in the United States.

Obama, offering a strikingly more upbeat assessment of the protesters than Trump and White House officials, said he believed only a “tiny” percentage had acted violently.

Floyd tested positive for coronavirus after he died, according to a Hennepin County autopsy report. The report says Floyd, 44, had first tested positive for COVID-19 back on April 3 and that traces of the virus “can persist for weeks after the onset and resolution of clinical disease.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struggled for 21 uncomfortable and televised seconds to find the words to answer a question about Trump’s response to the protests roiling the United States.

As the nation remained gripped by widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism, black and Hispanic women won elections in multiple states on Tuesday while Rep. Steve King, a nine-term congressman with a long history of racist remarks, was ousted in a Republican primary in Iowa.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz visited the site of Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police for the first time yesterday, telling mourners: “I have to personally and viscerally feel this.”

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia plans to order the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond to be removed, an administration official said yesterday – the same day Richmond’s mayor said he would propose removing additional Confederate monuments from the state capital.

A black man who called out “I can’t breathe” before dying in police custody in Tacoma, Wash., was killed as a result of oxygen deprivation and the physical restraint that was used on him, according to details of a medical examiner’s report released yesterday.

Dozens of people protesting Floyd’s killing were arrested in New York City after a curfew went into effect, including reportedly dozens in Cadman Plaza in a confrontation with police.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was at the Cadman Plaza protest, and posted a video showing police officers forcing demonstrators to move along forcibly and breaking up the march, despite Williams saying it was a “nonviolent protest.”

A protest against police brutality had numbers in the thousands yesterday evening outside Gracie Mansion. A moment of silence interrupted by the sound of cell phones buzzing, warning people that the nightly curfew was set to begin.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed yesterday that the city had taken “a step forward” during the sixth night of unrest in the Big Apple and pleaded with New Yorkers to focus on “phase one” of reopening, set to begin next week.

More than 200 current and former de Blasio staffers published an open letter that criticizes his handling of recent protests — the latest misstep, they say, in a series of failures to reform policing of communities of color.

The New York City police commissioner, Dermot Shea, said criminals are using Molotov cocktails, bricks, and cement-filled water bottles to attack officers during the peaceful demonstrations over Floyd’s death.

Three NYPD officers were hospitalized after a violent confrontation with a knife-wielding suspect in Brooklyn late last night, a police spokesperson said.

An inmate at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn died after being pepper sprayed by prison officers, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said.

The NYC Council has secured a veto-proof majority for legislation to criminalize NYPD chokeholds, Speaker Corey Johnson said. With 35 members in support, the bill can become law over the objection of de Blasio, who has said he would only sign it if language was added to exempt officers in “a life or death situation.”

The Manhattan district attorney says looters are getting right back on the street right after they’ve been arrested, so he’s asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make some emergency changes.

New York City businesses have likely suffered tens of millions of dollars in damages and theft as a result of the rampant open looting and vandalism that exploded in the Big Apple over the last few nights – and some may never recover, experts said.

The demand for security guards has been high in New York City as businesses move to try to protect assets from looters and destructive demonstrators.

Protesters took to the streets of Albany once again yesterday afternoon, a diverse crowd marching through the city’s predominantly white neighborhoods and growing in numbers as they went.

Albany County and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Center will host a COVID-19 testing clinic in Albany today that is designed specifically for first responders and individuals who attended recent police brutality protests.

Cuomo took fresh shots at Trump, saying the native New Yorker has “failed to do anything positive” for the state while in office – the latest escalation in the war of words between the two men.

“The president held up the Bible the other day in Washington, D.C.,” Cuomo said during his daily news conference. “Here in New York we actually read the Bible.”

Cuomo has apologized to the NYPD commissioner for his scathing rebuke of the department – and the mayor – on Tuesday, a top police official, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, said.

In a “Today” show interview, Monahan defended his cops. “Don’t ever call them ineffective,” he said. “As a matter of fact, last night, (Cuomo’s) office called and apologized to me. I know he called the commissioner directly to apologize, that that’s not what he meant, that he did not mean to put down the police officers.”

Trump remains clinically obese and put on more weight over the past year, according to a summary of his annual physical released yesterday, raising questions about his usage of an unproven coronavirus drug that can cause serious side effects in heavier-set people.

A group of former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees has released a report condemning the direction the agency has gone under Trump.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed Jamaal Bowman, the Democrat mounting a primary challenge to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel.

The Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus, senior officials said, a critical step in the White House’s effort to deliver on its promise of being able to start widespread inoculation of Americans by the end of the year.

The U.S. Senate approved sweeping changes to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program yesterday evening, making the program’s lending terms more favorable to restaurants, retailers and other businesses. (The measure has already passed the House, and heads to the president for his signature).

After months of separation brought on by the spread of coronavirus, Massachusetts is the first state to allow any kind of visits from family members in certain nursing homes.

Cuomo quietly added outdoor dining to the list of activities that can resume in Phase II, noting the adjustment in a midday press release rather than in his daily briefing.

The coronavirus isn’t mutating to become more dangerous, the World Health Organization said.

Doctors are testing a version of ibuprofen that’s normally used for arthritis as a possible coronavirus treatment for patients who are struggling to breathe.

Some forms of the commonly used antidepressant Zoloft, as well as its generic version sertraline, are currently in short supply, according to the FDA. The shortages point to both an increase in mental health difficulties among adults and logistical problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

De Blasio wants MTA officials to strictly limit crowds on the subway next week when the city’s coronavirus restrictions are loosened — but transit officials said his plan would force even more riders off the system.

Transit officials pulled their newest subway cars from service in New York City and launched an investigation after two cars became separated upon entering a Manhattan station in the early hours of the morning.

Aboveground pools are a hot commodity as people face a long, hot summer without relief of public spaces.

Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne illness with symptoms similar to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is on the rise in the Adirondacks and upstate New York.

Cash tolling, suspended as a result of the pandemic, is back on the Thruway.

The 2020 Dutchess County Fair has been canceled due to the evolving and unprecedented challenges presented by the coronavirus.

A black health care worker, Janae Garcia, says she was sitting just steps from her luxury building on the Upper West Side Friday when a “privileged” and pregnant white woman was caught on viral video accosting her and repeatedly calling 911.

The woman, Svitlana Flom, who owns the Southampton French restaurant Maison Vivienne, is under fire after a video surfaced of her calling the police on Garcia, who was smoking “in her neighborhood.”

The animal rescue group who confiscated Amy Cooper’s dog after her racist confrontation in Central Park with a birdwatcher went viral last month said that it will return the pooch.

The chief executive of one of the country’s biggest chicken producers and three other industry executives were indicted on charges they conspired to fix prices on chicken sold to restaurants and grocery stores, the Justice Department’s first charges in a continuing criminal antitrust probe.

Gary Jones, a former United Auto Workers president, pleaded guilty to embezzlement of union funds and racketeering, marking the highest-profile conviction yet in the government’s yearslong investigation into labor corruption within the auto industry.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, already under a church investigation for alleged sex abuse, has been accused by a second man of abuse in the 1970s, when the bishop was a parish priest in New Jersey.

A teen involved in the slaying of Barnard College student Tessa Majors has pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in the case and faces up to 18 months in detention.

Larry Schwartz, a longtime confidant of Cuomo, is promoting SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras as the next chancellor of the State University of New York — and even urged the SUNY Board of Trustees to forgo a nationwide search.

New York State would legalize the buying and selling of sex under a proposal reintroduced in the state Legislature that would lift criminal penalties for sex work.

Two Rochester radio hosts – Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck, who host the program “Kimberly and Beck” on 95.1 FM – were axed after making racist comments on-air about a group of looters.

Three Niskayuna Town Board members are at odds with Schenectady County over the best design for a proposed $1.6 million improvement plan at Nott Street around the Niskayuna Co-op to improve safety and traffic flow at the Balltown Road intersection.

The state’s Siting Board for electric generation projects approved the largest wind turbine to date in New York. The $454 million Alle-Cat project in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties is rated at 340 megawatts, and would contain 116 turbines over a total of 30,000 acres of privately leased land.

Live races from Belmont Park in New York and from the two other tracks operated by the New York Racing Association will not be available on TVG this year for the first time in 20 years, according to officials for both companies.

Opening Day of the 2020 Belmont Park spring/summer meet in Elmont, delayed as a result of the pandemic and held without fans, generated all-sources handle of $10,972,254, breaking the previous Opening Day record of $10.7 million set in 2010.

Yesterday’s 10-race card to open NYRA’s delayed 25-day spring/summer meet at Belmont Park marked the state’s first live event since the winter meet ended prematurely at Aqueduct on March 15. The spring/summer meet was initially scheduled to open on April 24.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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