Good morning, CivMixers. It’s Monday again, which is honestly kind of a bummer because it was a flat-out glorious mid-summer weekend.
I climbed a mountain one day and spent the next day floating on a lake. I hope your experience was similarly satisfying.
But we must all of us – well, most of us, anyway – pay the piper. And so we are back to it.
There’s another rather grim milestone to mark this morning. On this day in 1996, a pipe bomb exploded in Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killing one person and injuring 111. (Someone else later died from a heart attack, which was connected to the incident).
It was, as you might recall if you are of a certain age (like I am), and able to remember the experience, the first terrorist attack at the Olympics since the 1972 Games in Munich, West Germany.
It was the first of four bombings committed by Eric Rudolph. Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bomb before detonation and began clearing spectators out of the park. The FBI initially focused on Jewell as the suspect, though he turned out to be innocent.
Following three more bombings in 1997, Rudolph was identified by the FBI as the suspect. But he wasn’t arrested until 2003, after eluding capture for five years. Authorities believed Rudolph was hiding out in the Appalachian Mountains. The FBI named him as one of its ten most wanted fugitives and offered a $1 million reward for information leading directly to his arrest.
He was arrested, more or less on a fluke, by a rookie cop, and in 2005 he agreed to plead guilty to avoid a potential death sentence.
Rudolph was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for his crimes.
If you happen to be a fan of the Olympics, you know that the summer games should be taking place right this very minute in Tokyo. But, thanks to COVID-19, the games were postponed in March until 2021, throwing off the training schedules, hopes and medal dreams of thousands of athletes, and disappointing fans across the world.
Despite the fact that they will now be held in 2021, July 23 to Aug. 8, to be exact, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad will keep the name “Tokyo 2020” for marketing and branding purposes, which, for the record, makes no sense at all to me.
Today is National Scotch Day AND National Creme Brulee Day. This sounds like an amazing combination – in January. Not, however, for a day when the thermometer is forecast to flirt with 100 degrees. It’s going to be sunny, hot and very humid. And yes, there’s a heat advisory in place.
In the headlines…
New coronavirus cases continued to surge in the U.S. and other parts of the world over the weekend, as total global infections surpassed 16 million and American officials urged residents to comply with orders made to slow the virus’s spread.
Citing his “strong focus” on the ongoing pandemic and the economy, President Donald Trump said he has postponed his plan to throw out the opening pitch at a New York Yankees game next month, extending his run as the only modern president to not take part in the longstanding tradition.
Trump’s decision came less than 24 hours after Yankees Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks knelt during the national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice protests going on across the country.
White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci defended himself from charges of hypocrisy after he was seen not wearing a mask or social distancing while watching baseball.
“I had my mask around my chin. I had taken it down. I was totally dehydrated and I was drinking water trying to rehydrate myself,” he explained. “And, by the way, I was negative COVID literally the day before.”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that another round of direct payments to Americans will be included in the Republican stimulus package that leaders hope to unveil today.
The $600-a-week federal enhanced unemployment benefit is going to be slashed perhaps to $200 in the GOP plan. But Kudlow said a one-time $1,200 stimulus check for many Americans will be part of the package, as well as an extension of the federal eviction moratorium.
…there will also be reemployment bonuses, retention bonuses and tax credits for small businesses and restaurants.
Federal lawmakers now have little time before the $600 weekly supplement to jobless benefits ends. In negotiations with Democrats, three months before the election, an agreement on unemployment insurance might prove to be the most difficult to reach.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he would like to see lawmakers extend and alter the unemployment program, give tax credits to businesses to help ease reopening costs and grant employers new liability protections — while setting aside a long list of other objectives, including Democrats’ priorities.
Millions of laid-off workers across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will receive lower unemployment payments when a federal program providing an extra $600 a week expires at the end of July.
The casket carrying late civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis traveled across the Edmund Pettus Bridge yesterday — 55 years after he helped lead hundreds of demonstrators across the Selma, Ala., landmark.
House Democrats will rename a controversial voting rights bill in honor of Lewis today, as his coffin is exhibited in the Capitol Rotunda.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will travel to D.C. to honor Lewis as his body lies in state at the U.S. Capitol today.
A Virginia school district announced that it would rename Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield for Lewis.
Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee announced that they are launching an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after the agency dmitted to making inaccurate statements regarding its decision to bar New York residents from participating in the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted federal officials after court papers filed by the U.S. Department of Justice showed federal officials made false statements as they justified the shutdown of New York’s Trusted Travelers Program.
Cuomo asked the Republican members of New York’s congressional delegation to fight for state and local aid in a federal stimulus package under discussion.
Heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash floods drenched southern Texas and northern Mexico yesterday as the weakening Tropical Storm Hanna moved inland. Meanwhile Hawaii prepared for Hurricane Douglas to make landfall.
A healthy 9-year-old girl died this month in Florida after catching the coronavirus, becoming the youngest person in Florida to succumb to the illness, local outlets reported.
If any of the most-advanced Covid-19 vaccines prove to work safely, they may protect people for months or years rather than the rest of their lives, according to emerging science and health experts.
Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary with the Health and Human Services Department, said the federal government is working to shorten the length of time it takes to conduct coronavirus testing, following criticism over lengthy turnaround times.
More than two dozen lifeguards from two New Jersey beach towns have tested positive for the coronavirus after having been together socially, authorities said.
Bars and restaurants on Long Island, New York City and elsewhere downstate were hit with more than 100 violations on Friday and Saturday for failing to have employees wear masks and for ignoring open-container laws, a frustrated Cuomo said.
The violations, for issues such as people crowding outside and workers not wearing masks, were handed out byZ a new State Police and Liquor Authority enforcement task force. The SLA Board will meet today to review the 105 violations and decide on the possible suspension of some licenses.
Cuomo blamed the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post for pushing for early reopening of the economy, resulting in Florida and Arizona’s surging coronavirus cases.
While Capital Region COVID-19 cases have been inching back up, New York’s overall numbers have been on a continued downward trajectory.
Cuomo stressed that the “pandemic is far from over,” emphasizing that mask and hand washing remain the priority in staving off an uptick in cases. Figures provided by his office show 646 people were hospitalized because of the virus – the lowest since March 18th.
“Don’t get cocky,” Cuomo warned New Yorkers. “Don’t get arrogant. There are still threats out there. You still have the national threat, and then you have the compliance challenge.”
Partyers on beaches, crowds hanging in and outside taverns, and drinkers at pop-up bars who ignore COVID-19 social distancing measures each face fines of up to $1,000 — if government leaders choose to use the laws already on the books.
At the height of New York’s coronavirus lockdown, domestic violence in the five boroughs skyrocketed, data show.
The pandemic has spurred a boom for the home health care industry, as New Yorkers decided to keep loved ones out of nursing homes.
Tailors across New York City are expanding waistlines and moving buttons to accommodate the “Quarantine 15.” Some say they have seen business rise by as much as 80 percent, with customers asking for buttons to be moved, waistbands lengthened and jackets made more roomy.
New York City would make outdoor dining permanent, provide rent relief for small businesses and suspend the commercial rent tax for some shops, under a forthcoming plan from a Manhattan Councilman Keith Powers and business groups.
A series of strident new protests over police misconduct rattled cities across the country over the weekend, creating a new dilemma for state and local leaders who had succeeded in easing some of the turbulence in their streets until a showdown over the use of federal agents in Oregon stirred fresh outrage.
Large demonstrations turned violent around the country over the weekend as tens of thousands of Americans continued a monthslong wave of civil unrest protesting racism and police tactics.
New York City was host to another bloody Sunday, with seven murders over the past 24 hours. The killings come just a few weeks after the city saw one of its deadliest days in recent memory on July 5, when gunfire took the lives of nine New Yorkers.
Anti-cop demonstrators wreaked havoc in Lower Manhattan last night, setting fires and vandalizing several NYPD vehicles.
A large group of protesters briefly shut down traffic for miles on FDR Drive last night.
Felony assaults in the subway system have spiked 30 percent over the past month while cops were busy elsewhere in the city, MTA Chairman Pat Foye claimed in an interview.
Former Republican Gov. George Pataki warned that New York City is experiencing a “regression to those dark days when criminals ruled the streets.”
Civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley, who previously served as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top legal counsel and chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, is calling prominent New York pols seeking support for a potential run for mayor.
Actress Spencer Grammer, the daughter of “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer, was slashed in the arm trying to stop a drunk man from fighting with workers at an East Village eatery, police said.
Following a June primary vote in which an estimated 20 percent of New York City mail-in ballots were thrown out due to technicalities, concerns about the November presidential election are valid and on the rise.
Many of the thousands of county and local election officials who will be administering November’s presidential election are running email systems that could leave them vulnerable to online attacks, a new report has found.
Voter-rights advocates hope legislation that New York state lawmakers approved last week will prevent widespread invalidation of absentee ballots in the presidential election in November.
Election officials are hoping to declare winners by Aug. 4 – more than a month after New York’s primary – and the city has already invalidated upwards of 100,000 absentee ballots—about one of every five that were mailed in from the five boroughs.
A half-dozen members of the Assembly Democratic conference in Brooklyn and Queens have lost primaries, most to left-flank challengers backed by the Democratic Socialists of America or Working Families Party.
Democrats in the state Legislature took the first step last week to significantly diminish the role Republicans will play in the once-a-decade redrawing of New York lawmakers’ districts.
Three-term Upper East Side state Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright – who was knocked off the Democratic Party ballot line over paperwork snafus this spring during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic — has gathered more than 5,100 signatures to qualify to run on an independent ballot line.
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte has drawn from her heart-wrenching experience as the mother of a premature boy who died shortly after birth to push for a law that could save other newborns. The measure requires hospitals to admit mothers in “pre-term labor” for monitoring instead of releasing them or refusing treatment.
Cuomo has gotten state Senate approval to replace the entire state Bridge Authority board with appointments that are expected to be friendly with his wishes for a merger with the state Thruway Authority.
The 376-bed SUNY Downstate Medical Center, designed by Cuomo to treat only coronavirus patients, was woefully unprepared for the avalanche of COVID-19 patients, two insiders said.
As a result of the pandemic, Midtown Manhattan, the muscular power center of New York City for a century, faces an economic catastrophe, a cascade of loss upon loss that threatens to alter the very identity of the city’s corporate base.
Business leaders are trying to devise plans to revive the New York City tourism industry that brought in $45 billion annually and supported 300,000 jobs.
Delivery of instruction and access to technology in Long Island districts varied widely when schools shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus, with disparities evident in higher-needs districts.
The University at Albany is a notable outlier in a national study exposing the systemic exclusion of Black and Latino students at the 101 most selective and best-funded public colleges and universities in the United States.
In what may be the latest battlefront over potentially toxic PFAS chemicals in the environment, the state Legislature has approved a bill that would ban using the substances in food packaging.
State Attorney General Letitia James reportedly signed off on a settlement deal with Harvey Weinstein that included terms she promised his victims she’d never approve.
President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act 30 years ago yesterday, but a report released on its anniversary alleges that New York City officials have ignored a key aspect of the law.
Four separate shootings rocked Schenectady during the early hours yesterday, injuring at least three individuals.
Police fielded calls yesterday afternoon after a large group of bikers sped through Albany, temporarily halting traffic and allegedly bypassing traffic signals.
State police charged a Dutchess County man with attempted arson after police said he tried to light a state vehicle on fire at the Canaan toll plaza in Columbia County.
The field of surrender from which 700 Hessians started their march into captivity is now fully preserved at the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site after the American Battlefield Trust purchased 23.1 acres adjacent to the state park for $60,000.
Also RIP Peter Green, the English guitarist and singer who founded Fleetwood Mac. He died on Saturday at the age of 73.
Photo credit: George Fazio.