Well, CivMixers. Somehow we made it to another Friday, all of us together. What an accomplishment.
That might sound flip, but I actually mean it. Some weeks are a challenge. This was, in my opinion, one of them. One of many.
If you happen to be in Utah today, it’s Pioneer Day there. This day commemorates the 1847 entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, where the Latter-day Saints settled after being forced from Nauvoo, Illinois, and other locations in the eastern U.S.
While the holiday is strongly tied to the LDS Church, it is officially a celebration for everyone, regardless of faith and nationality, who emigrated to the Salt Lake Valley during the pioneer era – a time generally considered to have ended with the 1869 arrival of the transcontinental railroad.
Pioneer Day is typically marked with fireworks and outdoor festivities, some of which are still occurring in Utah today despite the pandemic. Some some Latter-day Saints also celebrate by walking portions of the Mormon Trail or re-enact entering the Salt Lake Valley by handcart.
On this day in 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court decided United States v. Nixon, a ruling that played a key role in President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office. The justices issued their decision just 16 days after hearing oral arguments in the case.
The president, the justices held, could not cite executive privilege as a reason for refusing to release tape recordings that had been subpoenaed in a criminal case related to the Watergate scandal.
Warren Burger, the man Nixon had appointed as chief justice, delivered the unanimous Opinion of the Court. (Justice William Rehnquist, who had worked in the Nixon administration, recused himself).
This case still resonates today, not only from a factual standpoint, but also since the current chief of the high court, John Roberts, has been disappointing the man who appointed him, President Donald Trump, with his votes and rulings of late in cases related to immigration and abortion rights – two very controversial social issues – and also, ironically, on subpoenas issued for his tax returns and other personal financial records.
The temperature is heading up, up, up, and we’ll be flirting with the 90s for the next several days. Today, we’ll see the high 80s, the intervals of sun and clouds.
Oh, and Happy Birthday J-Lo, who is turning 51, if you can believe it.
In the headlines…
The number of coronavirus cases in the US has surpassed 4 million, with nearly 144,000 Americans now killed by the global pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Filings for weekly unemployment benefits rose for the first time in nearly four months as some states rolled back reopenings because of the coronavirus pandemic, a sign the jobs recovery could be faltering.
The rise in weekly jobless claims to 1.4 million underscores the outsize role the unemployment insurance system is playing among the nation’s safety net programs — just when a $600 weekly federal aid payment for the jobless is set to expire at the end of this week.
The four-month pause that has protected millions of Americans from eviction cases is set to expire at the end of this week. But that hasn’t stopped landlords across the country from trying to get a head start forcing renters out.
Republicans stumbled in their efforts to find agreement on a broad new proposal to lift the struggling economy, with U.S. Senate leaders and the Trump administration at odds over multiple provisions, including how to extend unemployment benefits and White House requests for spending unrelated to the pandemic.
President Donald Trump announced that he has canceled segments of the Republican National Convention scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida in August, citing a “flare-up” of the coronavirus, and adding: “To have a big convention is not the right time.”
The president said delegates would still travel to Charlotte, N.C., the initial site of the convention, on Monday, Aug. 24, to formally nominate him for president. Trump said he would still give an acceptance speech, but didn’t offer other details, adding that he hadn’t decided where that would take place.
China has ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in the western city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province in apparent retaliation for the Trump administration closing China’s Houston consulate over accusations of espionage.
…The decision adds to the deterioration of ties between the world’s two largest economies, which have clashed over trade, technology, handling of the coronavirus epidemic and global influence.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s outrage over a Republican lawmaker’s verbal assault broadened into an extraordinary moment on the House floor yesterday as she and other Democrats assailed a sexist culture of “accepting violence and violent language against women” whose adherents include Trump.
Ocasio-Cortez, who excels at using her detractors to amplify her own political brand, invited a group of Democratic women in the House to come forward to express solidarity with her. One by one, they shared their own stories of harassment and mistreatment by men, including in Congress.
The late civil rights icon and Democratic Georgia Rep. John Lewis will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda Monday through Wednesday of next week.
A federal judge ruled that the decision to return Michael Cohen to custody amounted to retaliation by the government and ordered him to be released again into home confinement. Cohen is expected back in his Manhattan apartment today.
The Trump administration, which has pledged to use the full force of the government to protect federal property, expanded that effort yesterday by sending a team of tactical border officers to stand by for duty in Seattle.
The U.S. Senate passed a $740 billion defense spending bill that includes a provision to remove the name of Confederate leaders from military bases — setting up a showdown with Trump who is opposed to the move.
The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the list of hand sanitizers — some sold at Walmart, Costco and other national chains — being recalled to at least 75 recently, saying toxic levels of wood alcohol in them can cause injury or death.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there’s been an increase in coronavirus infections among young people compared with other age groups, posing a threat to the state’s reopening plans.
For people ages 21 to 30, the infection level went from 9.9 percent to 13.2 percent positive over the last two weeks, which compares to a statewide average that has hovered around 1 percent or slightly higher.
Cuomo’s message to young people: “This is not the time to fight for your right to party.” (Apologies to the Beastie Boys).
Health officials in Middletown, New Jersey, are tracking a coronavirus cluster stemming from a teen party — but are getting pushback from parents.
Sen. Rand Paul doubled down on his calls for Cuomo to be impeached for what the Republican lawmaker sees as a mishandling of the state’s coronavirus response, adding: “What you found in New York is that we ended up having horrendous death…I don’t think there is a lot in New York that we could look to and say that’s what we should model after.”
As New York moves from coronavirus crisis to sustained recovery, there remains a heartbreaking fact that some are trying to explore and others seem to be trying to exploit: Nearly 6,500 people have died of the virus in nursing homes and other long-term facilities in the state.
Nearly four months after the pandemic’s peak, New York City is facing such serious delays in returning coronavirus test results that public health experts are warning that the problems could hinder efforts to reopen the local economy and schools.
Cuomo and his aides acknowledged that some in the state are facing long waits for coronavirus test results, a day after the governor said delays were not a concern in New York.
Amid widespread complaints of long wait times to get COVID test results, the turnaround time has in fact dropped to a median of two days, the de Blasio administration said.
The governor defended his strict food-with-drinks requirement as a way to quell curbside boozing, saying the rule has always existed — as state law. “There is no bar that only serves alcohol,” he said.
Police officers are stationed at New York area airports to enforce the state’s strict quarantine rules amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the governor said.
“After DHS cut off the TTP program in February, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature amended the (Green Light) law that prevents sharing of information to federal law enforcement officers who are working to protect the citizens of New York and the American people.”
Cuomo said that he was “glad that this issue has finally been resolved.”
Homeland Security officials made false statements in a bid to justify expelling New York residents from programs that let United States travelers speed through borders and airport lines, federal lawyers admitted.
State lawmakers made an unusual midsummer return to Albany this week, making up for time lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
New York lawmakers want more influence in the state budget process, but the likelihood is slim that a constitutional change will make the ballot next year that would allow New Yorkers to decide on shifting some of that power away from Cuomo.
The state Assembly and Senate this week passed legislation to tighten the rules on a generous tax exemption that has been abused by developers in Syracuse and elsewhere in the state.
The state Legislature has passed a two-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition in schools.
New York lawmakers in both the Assembly and the Senate have passed a bill that would ban the manufacturing, selling, and distribution of food packaging that contains PFAS chemicals.
While the realities of the pandemic did lead to an exponential increase in absentee voting, a combination of antiquated election laws, a lack of funding, and other issues led to the ultimate disqualification of one out of every five votes – a significantly higher rate than in past elections in New York.
Faced with remote learning or socially distanced classroom options, some parents of rising kindergartners are considering holding their kids back.
New York City principals are worried about how they can safely open school buildings on time this fall given concerns about the coronavirus, and their union says the city Department of Education hasn’t given them enough guidance. In a letter sent to principals, their union chief pledged to push for answers to their questions.
Facing a possible shortage of school nurses, New York City school officials are looking for ways to ensure schools have enough medical personnel when they reopen this fall.
Back-to-school plans are starting to come together at school districts in the Capital Region, which are offering students a maze of options from staying home, to attending class on a staggered schedule of half-day instruction.
As schools across the country struggle to come up with plans to reopen safely this fall, some Saratoga Springs mothers are making it known that when their children return they do not want them to have to wear face masks.
The union representing State Police investigators said that troopers and investigators deployed in New York City’s five boroughs could face arrest on misdemeanor charges if they use restraint techniques that are part of their training but have been banned under new codes adopted by the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cops shouldn’t fear accidentally breaking the city’s new law restricting their use of chokeholds on criminal suspects because no city district attorney will prosecute them, the NYPD’s Chief of Department told a closed-door meeting of police brass.
A federal judge temporarily blocked the release of police disciplinary records in New York state, a month after elected officials repealed a law that would allow for greater transparency.
New York is planning to reopen state prisons to visitors in the coming weeks after a months-long coronavirus shutdown — but new visiting restrictions upset some inmates’ friends and families.
De Blasio rejected an assertion from Cuomo that graffiti in downtown Manhattan suggested the Big Apple was reverting to the “bad old days” of the 1970s and ’80s.
Subway ridership was 75 percent higher last week compared to the weeks of New York City’s coronavirus shutdown, stats touted by de Blasio show.
Some of New York City’s outdoor public swimming pools will finally open as soon as today.
Even before consequences of COVID-19 threatened Americans’ financial security, U.S. farmers and ranchers recognized they could protect the environment and save money by transitioning to renewable energy sources. But initial prices and the cost of maintenance are discouraging them.
One day after a de facto homeless encampment was cleared from the shadow of City Hall, de Blasio and his self-proclaimed “zero-tolerance” policy had to answer for three more across Manhattan.
Every indicator used to measure the spread of novel coronavirus in Albany County increased overnight, county officials said.
Trump told reporters at a White House coronavirus task force briefing that he was asked to throw the pitch by his friend Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees.
Trump welcomed the return of Major League baseball and called for all athletes to stand for the national anthem — just hours after every player and coach knelt before The Star-Spangled Banner was played at the season opener in Washington, D.C.
White House coronavirus task force member and diehard baseball fan Dr. Anthony Fauci threw the first pitch at the long-awaited 2020 MLB season opener — as the New York Yankees took on the World Series champion Nationals.
Cuomo has not thrown a ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game throughout his nearly 10 years as governor, defying a century of New York political tradition that dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Al Smith.
New York will revisit its ban on fans at live sports events, with a final decision expected before the Syracuse football season starts in September at the newly renovated Carrier Dome.
In a move that indicates there will likely be limited or no fans in the stands at games this season, the Buffalo Bills sent a letter to season ticket holders informing them of their options.
Mike Francesa will leave WFAN effective after his show today, marking his second and presumably final departure as a regular presence at the station, he announced late in his program last night.
Leftist organizations like the Working Families Party and New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America are piling up wins in the June primaries, with absentee ballot counting near an end and a wide array of candidates they supported on the verge of winning seats in Congress and the state Legislature.
Veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney is “pulling away” from Democratic rival Suraj Patel and smelling victory as mail-in votes were counted last night to determine their nail-biting primary, a campaign spokesman said.
A report released by New York’s Authorities Budget Office found issues with transparency, failures to adhere to reporting requirements and assistance that had been allocated to businesses not traditionally covered by IDA funding.
An individual diagnosed with COVID-19 who briefly entered Albany’s Montessori Magnet School last week wore a mask the entire time and did not interact with anyone for more than 10 minutes, Albany school officials said.
Police are investigating whether gunfire inside Crossgates Mall on Wednesday afternoon is linked to ongoing violence between feuding groups of young people in Albany and Troy.
A violent summer in the City of Albany is getting attention from city officials – and so is the issue of police reform.
The intense focus nationally on police reforms has not derailed the Schenectady police department’s years-long goal at becoming accredited, which Assistant Police Chief Michael Seber said is slated to happen in the fall.
The palatial mansions in New York City and Florida owned by Jeffrey Epstein, where the notorious financier was accused of running an elaborate sex-trafficking scheme involving underage girls, will be listed for sale for a combined $110 million.
Troy Young, the president of Hearst’s magazine division, resigned yesterday, one day after The New York Times reported on his history of lewd, sexist remarks in the workplace.
Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, contend in an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed in California that they haven’t been able to escape the paparazzi, who the couple accuse of using drones and telephoto lenses to take unauthorized photos of their son, Archie.
Note to those seeking to fake their own deaths: Use spellcheck.
Photo credit: George Fazio.