Rise and Shine: July 23, 2020

Good Thursday morning, CivMixers.

It’s still National Ice Cream month, designated as such by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The proclamation is really worth reading, if you’ve got a moment.

It calls on Americans to celebrate the “nutritious and wholesome food” that is ice cream with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Within this month-long extravaganza, there is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, which just so happens to be today. You know how I feel about vanilla versus chocolate, if you’re a regular CivMix reader. But vanilla is the most popular flavor of most Americans, and also the default flavor when it comes to ice cream.

The story goes that the country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, discovered vanilla ice cream during a trip to France. He liked is so much that he jotted down the recipe in the 1780s, which you can check out here and maybe even make for yourself – if you happen to have 2 bottles of “good cream,” 6 yolks of eggs and 1/2 lb. of sugar handy….also ice, of course, and salt.

On a less upbeat note – because, really, who doesn’t like ice cream in some form? – today is the anniversary of the death of singer Amy Winehouse, who was plagued by substance addiction and died of alcohol poisoning on this day in 2011 at the age of 27.

After her death, her 2006 album “Back to Black” temporarily became the UK’s best-selling album of the 21st century. VH1 subsequently ranked Winehouse 26th on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music.

The first single released from that album was “Rehab,” which reached the Top 10 in both the UK and the US and named by Time magazine as the Best Song of 2007.

Winehouse was known for her deep throaty vocals, her towering beehive hairdo and her winged eyeliner – among other things. She will forever hold a place on my personal playlist.

We are working our way up to another stretch of 90-plus degree days…the weekend is looking very hot and sunny indeed. First, however, we have to get through today (not to mention tomorrow), and are looking at temperatures in the low 80s and the possibility of thunderstorms.

In the headlines…

Throngs of federal law enforcement officers will soon flood the streets of Chicago and other Democrat-led cities as part of President Trump’s controversial crackdown on crime — but New York won’t be targeted. Yet.

“Today, I’m announcing a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime,” Trump said at the White House yesterday. “We’ll work every single day to restore public safety, protect our nation’s children and bring violent perpetrators to justice.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he and Trump have agreed that no federal action will be taken to address rising crime rates in New York City yet, and none will be attempted prior to another conversation between the two Queens natives.

“I also said that at this point I think that this situation can be managed by the state, to the extent anything has to be done and I was totally prepared to do that, that there was no need for federal involvement,” Cuomo said in a call with reporters.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s sending a letter to Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Security Chad Wolf stating federal agents are not needed in the five boroughs, adding: “What we see happening in Portland, Ore., is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Protesters in Portland reportedly projected a list of demands of the city on a building yesterday evening while the city’s mayor addressed the crowd that included the need to defund the police department by 50 percent and freeing all protesters from jail.

The mayor of Portland was tear gassed by the U.S. government as he stood at a fence guarding a federal courthouse during another night of protest against the presence of federal agents sent by Trump to quell unrest in the city.

The president again tried to defend his own mental fitness for office — and disparage Joe Biden’s — by frequently repeating a memory sequence: “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.”

When asked about his plans for a national strategy to reopen schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump said he would becomfortable” with his own son and grandchildren returning to school.

Despite the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, prominent Republicans across the country have been pushing for the full reopening of U.S. schools in the fall. However, public opinion doesn’t seem to be following their lead, at least according to a poll released by the AP.

Teachers union officials are prepared to fight back if they think the reopening of Big Apple schools is being done unsafely, union boss Michael Mulgrew said.

Manhattan’s New Explorations in Science and Technology, a top school in NYC, has issued a reopening model where all instruction would take place off campus with only advisory and secondary services taking place in its building.

Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship, which has benefited 30,000 students since it was announced in 2017, may be rolled back this year due to COVID-19 budget constraints, according to a notice that appeared on the application website.

The number of global coronavirus infections exceeded 15 million yesterday as the virus continues to surge — and in some cases return ― and new hot spots emerge. The U.S. remains the hardest hit country with more than 3.9 million cases, as well as more than 142,300 deaths.

More people are on track to be hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States than at any point in the pandemic, a disturbing sign of how the current surge has spread widely and is seriously sickening as many people as ever.

California reported more than 12,800 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest reported daily tally the state has recorded so far, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. California has now surpassed New York in total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

New York faces a new test in its fight against the new coronavirus: ensuring travelers from high-risk states don’t undo its progress in driving down infection rates.

Trump says his administration is providing an additional $5 billion to nursing homes, which have borne a disproportionate share of the death toll in the coronavirus pandemic.

Liability shields tucked into this year’s state budget for nursing homes and health care providers could be clawed back as New York legislators look to amend the legal immunity given to the medical facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. has agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech nearly $2 billion to secure 100 million doses of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine to provide to Americans free of charge, the latest sign the government is readying plans to make vaccines available if proved to work safely.

“Hopefully the approval process will go very quickly, and we think we have a winner there,” Trump said. “We also think we have other companies right behind that are doing very well on the vaccines, long ahead of schedule.”

The Trump administration’s commitment to purchase 100 million doses of a not-yet-finished vaccine is unusual.

While little is definitively known about the coronavirus, just seven months into the pandemic, the new virus is behaving like most others, they said, lending credence to the belief that herd immunity can be achieved with a vaccine.

Administration officials were alerted that a cafeteria employee on White House grounds tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Ike’s Eatery, located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and the New Executive Office Building’s cafeteria have been temporarily shut down.

Robert Wood Johnson, the billionaire NFL owner who serves as Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, was investigated by the State Department watchdog after allegations that he made racist and sexist comments to staff and sought to use his government position to benefit the President’s personal business in the UK.

The NFL will require fans to wear face coverings to games once spectators are allowed back, the league confirmed.

Key senators and White House negotiators said they had reached a deal on a piece of their stimulus package, which would include $105 billion for schools and additional billions in funds for testing, setting the stage for the release of their long-awaited full proposal.

Senate Republicans are set to start unveiling at least part of their forthcoming coronavirus relief proposal today.

Republicans are reportedly considering extending the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit at a dramatically reduced level of $400 per month, or $100 a week, through the rest of the year.

Cuomo renewed pleas for federal help to states and cities affected by the coronavirus, while continuing to tout New York’s performance in keeping the spread under control through its reopening phases.

Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called for the impeachment of Cuomo, a Democrat, over his handling of the state’s coronavirus outbreak, saying: “The people we are lauding are actually making catastrophic decisions.”

Chris Churchill: “Look honestly at the statistics and it’s clear New York didn’t win. We lost, badly. There’s no sugarcoating it.”

New York City would create an office dedicated to handling pandemics, among other steps to amend the Big Apple’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, under a forthcoming package of bills from Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres.

Forty years of hard-won progress on the subways will be lost to the coronavirus pandemic unless the federal government helps out, MTA officials said.

The MTA, which has an operating budget of $17 billion, previously received almost $4 billion in a federal coronavirus bailout in March. But that funding is expected to run out at the end of the month.

A steeper fare hike than what already was planned could be coming for commuters, including those on the Long Island Rail Road, as MTA officials backed off their previous promises that there would be no pandemic-related rate increase.

Cuomo has made it even harder for cash-strapped watering holes and restaurants to churn back to life by declaring a bag of chips is no longer enough to comply with the requirement they serve food with booze.

The State Liquor Authority’s decision to yank liquor licenses from three packed bars and restaurants in Astoria, Queens, was a warning to other city businesses to follow COVID-19 social distancing rules, de Blasio said.

From the top of the Empire State Building to the foot of the Statue of Liberty, New York City tourist attractions are reopening, and operators are counting on city residents to keep the flailing industry alive.

A new kind of unrest has emerged in recent days: confrontations between New Yorkers who support law enforcement and those who are pressing for an overhaul of the Police Department.

A line of NYPD officers in riot gear cleared out the remaining Occupy City Hall protesters from their month-long encampment in Lower Manhattan early yesterday, police confirmed.

A half dozen insurgent candidates in Brooklyn and Queens — some backed by the Democratic Socialists of America — toppled veteran incumbents in Democratic primary races, including close allies of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Queens Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas yesterday conceded to challenger Zohran Mamdani, a first-time candidate for elected office and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

“Socialism won,” Mamdani said in a tweet.

Also yesterday, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1972, conceded defeat to Brooklyn activist Emily Gallagher, and Assemblyman Walter Mosley, a Brooklyn Democrat, conceded his defeat to Phara Souffrant Forrest, a nurse, union activist and Democratic Socialist candidate.

Nick Reisman: “Lentol’s loss comes amid a broader generational shift in Albany and Capitol where change can appear glacial and the legislative sessions often like Groundhog Day. Older lawmakers are being replaced not just by fresh faces, but younger lawmakers who bring different perspectives, worldviews and experiences to the fore.”

Republican Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida apologized for a heated exchange in which he allegedly called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “f—ing bitch.”

Ocasio-Cortez forcefully rejected Yoho’s words of contrition after he declined to apologize for referring to her with a vulgar and sexist expletive, denying he had uttered the words.

The congresswoman said her colleague was “refusing responsibility” for his actions, adding on Twitter: “I will not teach my nieces and young people watching that this an apology, and what they should learn to accept.”

Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck in his in-custody death, has been charged with tax fraud and tax evasion along with his estranged wife.

An NYPD officer from West Islip and two other Long Island men were arrested on drug and conspiracy charges Tuesday, the result of an investigation sparked by the fatal overdose of a man in Copiague in September.

The House voted to banish from the Capitol statues of Confederate figures and leaders who pushed white supremacist agendas, part of a broader effort to remove historical symbols of racism and oppression from public spaces. The Senate is unlikely to allow a vote on the measure.

Michael Cohen is back in prison because he was a pain in the neck — not because he’s working on a tell-all about Trump, federal authorities said.

Roy Den Hollander, the “anti-feminist” attorney who is the prime suspect in a New Jersey shooting of a judge’s son, may also have killed a rival men’s rights lawyer, officials say.

Police from three departments responded to reports of shots fired at Crossgates Mall. No injuries were reported but the shopping center remained on lockdown at 6 p.m. as police continued to search the mall as a precaution.

The shooting took place near a Foot Locker store inside the mall, according to 911 calls. Police sources confirmed that shell casings from a 9mm handgun were recovered on the floor of the mall.

Albany County is urging anyone who attended the massive July 4 weekend party in Albany that has now been linked to 28 cases of COVID-19 to go get tested, even if they’re not feeling symptoms.

Small businesses such as restaurants, dog-care centers and manufacturers brought back staff beginning in mid-April, believing they could get back to business. Now, many are shutting down or slashing jobs again as local officials and consumers pull back and the pandemic shows no signs of abating.

Tesla Inc., for the first time in its 17-year history, reported a fourth-consecutive profitable quarter, a milestone that is sure to bolster Chief Executive Elon Musk’s pitch that he can usher in the age of fully electric cars.

More than 30 child sexual abuse complaints were filed yesterday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, including seven claims directed at a deceased Christian brother who had been assigned to Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbon High School in Schenectady in the 1960s and ’70s, according to the filings.

New Yorkers anxious after weathering the worst of the coronavirus pandemic are fueling a boom in home sales and rentals around the picturesque towns and wooded hills to the north. Real estate brokers and agents describe a red-hot market recently, with many house hunters able to work from home.

Hikers, local Adirondack residents, wilderness advocates and forest rangers alike agree that, despite the coronavirus pandemic the High Peaks region appears to be seeing more visitors than ever this summer.

The New York Racing Association will go to the dogs with its Virtual Dog Adoption series during the 2020 meet at Saratoga Race Course.

Hurricane Douglas could strengthen into a Category 3 storm and may hit Hawaii by Sunday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The New York Times Company has agreed to buy Serial Productions, the company behind the hit podcast “Serial,” The Times said, in the paper’s latest move to broaden its digital journalism.

A nationwide coin shortage is being felt in certain parts of upstate.

Ed Bartholomew, former mayor of Glens Falls and president and CEO of the Warren County Economic Development Corporation, died late on Tuesday, the Warren County Board of Supervisors said. He was 70.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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