Thursday has come and with it a gorgeous weather day. Air is off, windows are open, airing the house out and breathing fresh air, not forced air, and it is wonderful. There is nothing I hate more than having the house closed up too many days, and the air getting stale.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Both today and tomorrow are supposed to be relatively nice, temps in the high seventies or low eighties, maybe some rain or a few isolated storms (which are desperately needed). Then, with the weekend, the hot in the nineties weather will return. Eh, take what we can get.

Yes, the weather is a nice change, and it makes many things seem more manageable. However, I find myself backsliding into anger, frustration, and exhaustion as we check out the news today.

I do not understand why we are still seeing so many stories in the news about people being so opposed to and angry about mask mandates.

Worse, there are stories about governors or other leading government officials refusing to mandate masks or flat out denying local governments the right to mandate masks in their area.

Tiktok made headlines today. Ditto, Twitter” on many influential people’s Twitter. The FBI is investigating what is being called a “coordinated attack” on a number of high-profile Twitter accounts.

Of course, President Trump is in the news today. The leader of the free world is always going to make news, regardless of who he – or she (someday) – may be.

Sometimes that news is good, sometimes bad, and sometimes just flat out bizarre.

Of course, how you feel about that depends largely on where you land on the political spectrum. Hopefully, we figure out how to stop that before we pass it on to the next generation.

Enough of navel gazing, right? Time to get to our 5 Things for the day.

1) For 17 years, there were no federal executions in the United States. That all changed this week, when there have been not one, but two prisoners put to death.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons today said that after the Supreme Court overruled the last appeal filed on behalf of Wesley Purkey, 68, he was executed at 8 a.m.

Purkey’s original execution date was yesterday at 4 p.m. A federal court approved his lawyer’s appeal that due to his advanced age and the onset of dementia, Purkey no longer understood the assigned punishment for his crimes. Today in a 5-4 ruling, (Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor in the dissent; Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Roberts, Thomas in the affirmative), SCOTUS overturned the stay placed on the execution by the lower court.

In 2003, Purkey was convicted in the state of Missouri for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. He then dismembered her, burning the remains before dumping them in a septic pond.

On Monday, SCOTUS overruled a different lower court’s stay and allowed Daniel Lee – another murderer convicted for killing a child – to be executed, the first federal execution in almost two decades.

Purkey’s specific stay was granted due to mental concerns, chiefly dementia and Alzheimer’s, coupled with many well-documented issues going back to his childhood, which three mental health organizations first raised last week to Attorney General William Barr. According to these experts, Purkey’s should have faced life in prison without parole.

The majority of high court justices disagreed. There are two other men, both also convicted for the murder of children, who are scheduled for executions this summer – Dustin Honken on July 17, which is tomorrow, and Keith Nelson on Aug. 28.

2) Florida hit a new high – well, really a low – in COVID related deaths occurring in a 24-hour period: 156 today. The previous record of 132 was set on Tuesday. In total, the Sunshine State has reported 4,677 coronavirus deaths.

In a rise of almost 14,000 cases, FL reported a total of 315,775 cases today, with 8,626 hospitalizations. In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez told reporters that hospitals within his city are now at 95 percent capacity due to the pandemic.

According to Suarez, the 18 – 34 demographic has the highest infection rate – but only represents just 27 percent of Miami’s population. Surveys show that 33.7 percent of those infected believe they caught the virus from another member of their household. Basically, young people are going out and bringing the virus home with them, according to Mayor Suarez.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that some of the private labs being used by the state to process COVID tests will lose their contracts if they can’t provide results within 48 hours. He touted his state’s antibody testing, claiming that if antibodies are present in a person’s immune system, then they have a resistance in the ability of the disease to spread.

Researchers the world over, including the World Health Organization, have continuously and repeatedly stated that there is absolutely no scientific proof that prior infection and the presence of antibodies does anything to prevent future disease in a person. A study done by the Spanish government suggests that after a few weeks, the antibodies of the coronavirus wane in the system.

3) Due to ongoing non-compliance with social distancing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that there will be no alcohol served at New York bars and restaurants without food.

Also, for the time being, there will be no walk-up service at bars, so alcohol can only be served to those seated at tables (properly distanced) or for take-out orders. New York still has the highest overall number of COVID cases and deaths in the nation, with approximately 25,000 deaths.

In NYC, there are even stricter restrictions. Any establishment that has three violations will have their liquor license revoked. If there is a blatant disregard for policy, then the license can be revoked immediately at the time of the incident.

4) For the second time in a week, the Saratoga Police Department is investigating a vandalized monument in Congress Park. Today, the memorial that honors the 77th regiment of the Union Army in the Civil war was found vandalized. It has been up since 1875.

Frank Wodicka was is a proud Saratogian and daily visitor of Congress park, and he is very upset about the vandalism. He says he understands why Confederate statues are being taken down, but doesn’t understand why anyone would want to take down one honoring the Union.

The earlier monument target was a redesigned Katrina Trask Gateway, with graffiti sprayed on the garbage cans, stone walls, and trees around it. Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco said issue shave been addressed as they occur. However, Scirocco says that he is unsure that the statue, made of bronze and zinc, can be saved.

Surveillance cameras are being reviewed for any clues.

5) According to the Schenectady Police Department, Leasha Merritt, 34, has succumbed to injuries inflicted in a July 5th shooting. Police say the initial report was for a woman shot in the head in a parking lot at the Albany and Hamlin Streets at approximately 6:30 AM.

The investigation is still ongoing, and if anyone has information on the incident is encouraged to call the SPD at (518) 788-6566.

That is all for today. Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.