Five Things That Happened While You Were Out: July 17, 2020

Ah summer Fridays. So indolent, so perfect for cutting out just a wee bit early to get a jump on the weekend, which, as mentioned earlier today, is going to be HOT.

Hopefully, you have access to a pool or a lake or even a stream, river or bucket of ice. Remember to push those fluids, wear light clothing and keep pets indoors at the height of the heat.

And now…today’s 5 things (thus far).

1) The Pentagon, without once mentioning the word “Confederate” and hoping to avoid igniting a confrontation with President Donald Trump, announced a policy that essentially bans displays of the Confederate flag on military installations around the world.

A two-page memo that outlines the policy change makes clear that appropriate flags include those of American states and territories, military services and other countries that are U.S. allies. The guidance never specifically says that Confederate flags are banned, but they do not fit in any of the aforementioned approved categories.

“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” Esper wrote in the memo. “With this change in policy, we will further improve the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the force in defense of our great Nation.”

2) New York City will be moving into Phase 4 of the reopening process on Monday as planned, but it won’t be as robust a return to normalcy as many had originally hoped.

In short, anything that’s happening outdoors – within reason, meaning with social distancing and other public health protocols in place – is OK to proceed, while indoor activities (museums, dining, movies etc.) are out for the foreseeable future.

“Outdoors looks very good. Indoors is where we have concerns,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Museums, not yet. Malls, not yet, still closed for now. We’ve gotta strike a balance, and we’ve got time to look at the evidence, watch what’s happening around the country, watch what’s happening here in the city and make further decisions.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a tweet, urged New Yorkers to “continue to be on alert” in order to keep the coronavirus infection curve moving in the right direction – in other words, down – in contrast to what is occurring elsewhere in the nation.

3) The NYPD has made an arrest in the grisly murder and dismemberment of tech CEO and investor Fahim Saleh, charging his executive assistant, Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, with second-degree murder.

Haspil is believed to have owed a significant amount of money to his boss – perhaps in excess of $100,000 – and allegedly attacked him with a Taser while he was getting off an elevator that opened directly into his Manhattan apartment.

Text messages have been discovered by detectives in which Saleh accused Haspil of stealing money.

Saleh fired Haspil, who had worked for the tech CEO since he was 16, but did not report the theft and reportedly even offered to set up what amounted to a repayment plan so he could return the money.

Saleh co-founded Pathao, a popular ride-share app in Bangladesh. More recently, he was the CEO of Gokada, a motorcycle ride-sharing and delivery company based in Nigeria, which has faced financial setbacks and recently laid off most of its staff.

4) Brian Yevoli, the 20-year-old son of Michael Yevoli, the regional director for Empire State Development, has been charged with felony criminal mischief for allegedly causing more than $19,000 in damage to the Albany County Department of Probation building during a May 30 anti-police protest that turned violent.

The sheriff’s department released a photo they said shows Brian Yevoli kicking in the large windows of the county’s building on South Pearl Street, just across from the Times Union Center, close to where a tractor-trailer was set on fire.

He is one of 26 people who were arrested for engaging in violence during the protests that took place in response to the police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd.

5) Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14 – a revelation that has caused significant alarm among activists and generated national (and international) headlines.

Chad Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, defended the actions of federal law enforcement officers in Portland, saying: “These valiant men and women have defended our institutions of justice against violent anarchists for 48 straight days. We will prevail.”

Meanwhile, Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, called the federal involvement “irresponsible.” He and other local officials have said they did not ask for help from federal law enforcement and have asked them to either remain inside federal buildings or leave the city altogether.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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