Today is Wednesday, CivMixers. Good morning, and welcome to it.
It’s also National Video Game Day, not to be confused with National Video GameS Day (capital “S” added for emphasis), which is Sept. 12. A difference without a distinction, you say? Perhaps.
Anyway, did you know that the very first video game invested was a form of table tennis? It was called – what else? – Tennis for Two.
It was created in 1958 by a physicist named William Higinbotham, who just so happens to have grown up in Caledonia, NY. He also attended Cornell, and invented the game while working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island to show off the facility’s instrumentation division capabilities at its annual visitor’s day.
Today, there are over five million games in existence. And for all of those among us regularly cursing (or praising, depending on the moment) whoever came up with the idea of an addictive pastime that occupies kids (and some adults) for hours, while they stare blankly at a screen…well, now you know to whom you should directing those sentiments.
I’m fairly confident in saying that the existence of video games is what is assuring that I get some measure of work accomplished during the work-from-home result of this ongoing pandemic. So, thanks a lot, William Higinbotham, for making my life semi-productive.
It’s going to be humid and warm and cloudy today, with temperatures in the high 80s and a chance of thunderstorms mounting throughout the day.
In the headlines…
Coronavirus case numbers are continuing to increase around the country, and as states pile up more and more new reported cases, the U.S. is closing in on a tragic milestone: three million coronavirus infections. According to the CDC, the country had counted 2,932,596 total cases as of yesterday.
Texas has blown past its record for daily new coronavirus cases, reporting 10,028 new cases yesterday alone.
Intensive care units in Florida hospitals have reached capacity in 21 counties as the Sunshine State tackles a new surge in coronavirus cases.
Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said taking “comfort” in the lower coronavirus death rate — which has been touted by President Trump — promotes a “false narrative” on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many states failed to anticipate that reopening would lead to a surge of infections in adults between 18 and 35, Deborah Birx, the physician overseeing the White House pandemic response, said.
A newly released model predicts that a total of 208,000 Americans will have died from COVID-19 by Nov. 1. That model, from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, also projects that if 95 percent of people wear masks, 45,000 fewer Americans will die.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as effective against the novel coronavirus when used on hard, non-porous surfaces.
The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that the U.S. will withdraw from the World Health Organization, a move that would cut off one of the largest sources of funding from the premier global health organization in the middle of a pandemic.
After hundreds of experts urged the WHO to review mounting scientific research, the agency acknowledged that airborne transmission of the coronavirus may be a threat in indoor spaces.
The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs.
Tarrytown-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has been awarded a $450 million contract by the federal government to produce tens of thousands of doses of a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Trump demanded that schools reopen physically in the fall, pressing his drive to get the country moving again even as the coronavirus pandemic surged through much of the U.S. and threatened to overwhelm some health care facilities.
The president did not offer any detailed proposals for how schools could open safely next month even as he admitted he planned to crank up pressure on governors to do what he wants.
“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open,” Trump said. “It’s very important…Everybody wants it. The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it.”
Federal immigration officials’ decision to revoke the visas of international students whose colleges offer only online courses this fall sparked outrage in the world of higher education.
…the directive prompted widespread confusion as students scrambled to clarify their statuses and universities reassessed their fall reopening policies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
New York’s school districts must develop plans to reopen schools in the fall even though the state has not yet produced much-needed health and safety requirements or said what districts’ plans should cover.
…On May 21, Cuomo said the state would release health and safety guidelines for schools in early June. But nothing has been released.
Thousands of New York City child-care facilities could reopen as early as next week under a measure approved by the city’s Board of Health yesterday, bringing relief to struggling parents but also putting some providers in a tough spot.
Travelers from Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma must now self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, as officials on Long Island warned they are seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases due to out-of-state travelers. This brings the total number of states under self-quarantine orders to 19.
The Pew Research Center released new data that shows who has moved as a result of the pandemic (a lot of young people) and whether they plan on making those relocations permanent.
JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America Corp. are in line to split between $1.5 billion and $2.6 billion in fees for being the conduits of the government’s aid program for small businesses stricken by the coronavirus shutdown, according to an analysis of newly released data.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. is reportedly nearing a restructuring deal that would help stave off a near-term bankruptcy filing while turning down a competing financing offer from senior lenders including Apollo Global Management Inc.
Dunkin’ is closing hundreds of its store locations by the end of the year.
Michael Goodwin: “Cuomo has the nerve to blame grieving family members and heroic nursing-home staffers, charging they were the ones who infected and killed as many 12,000 elderly and helpless residents.”
Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi struck back on Twitter after upstate Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik and others scoffed at a state Health Department report that absolved the administration of any responsibility for more than 6,000 presumed or confirmed deaths of nursing home residents from COVID-19.
One of the state’s largest public labor unions, PEF, is calling on Cuomo to require buildings that house state workers to meet the same air-filtration standards that the governor recently said he will impose on large malls and potentially other private-sector businesses.
New York’s largest nurses union filed charges of unfair labor practices against several hospitals in the state, seeking the number of nurses who had been infected with the coronavirus.
Lab delays in providing coronavirus test results are disrupting the city’s ability to track the outbreak, according to a senior health adviser to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
NYC will expand broadband internet access to another 600,000 New Yorkers as a part of de Blasio’s plan to speed up an existing “Internet Master Plan” and close the digital divide in low-income communities of color.
…The plan would invest $157 million – including $87 million from the NYPD’s budget – towards extending internet service to the more than half-a-million residents without adequate internet service under the city budget passed in June.
…The total includes some 200,000 public housing residents and 400,0000 others, all of whom will get internet service for $15 a month over the course of the next 1.5 years.
De Blasio attached to his announcement proposed state legislation that would let the city charge internet companies to use public roadways to set up networks. The money collected would fund the expanded coverage.
New York City’s small retailers and boutique businesses are experimenting with fresh ways to engage shoppers as the city emerges from restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
New Yorkers like getting booze with their take-out food and want to make the offering permanent after the coronavirus passes, according to a restaurant industry survey.
Museums, the aquarium and other cultural institutions, which for months have suffered without visitors and revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, are ready to welcome the public as Nassau and Suffolk counties enter Phase 4 of the state’s economic reopening plan today.
Trump’s niece Mary Trump levels scathing criticism at the President in her forthcoming book, accusing him of being a “sociopath” and charging that Trump’s “hubris and willful ignorance” dating back to his early days threatens the country.
Trump’s niece was a family outcast. Her new book casts a cold light on the relatives she describes as dysfunctional.
Trump described displaying the Confederate flag as “freedom of speech” while saying it was “up to” NASCAR to make the decision on whether to allow the symbol at races.
The leaders behind a campaign to boycott Facebook ads until the company curbs hate speech and extremism on its platforms had harsh words for CEO Mark Zuckerberg after they met with Facebook executives, saying the virtual get together was disappointing and didn’t yield results.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has amassed even more delegates after his home state of Maryland’s primary yesterday, but full and final results from those contests and New Jersey’s primaries won’t be available for some time.
In a rebuke of a potent New Jersey political machine, Amy Kennedy, a former schoolteacher whose husband is a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, won a primary battle to take on Jeff Van Drew, a freshman congressman who defected from the Democrats with a pledge of loyalty to Trump.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a Thai-American Democrat who lost both of her legs fighting in the Iraq war and is now a potential vice-presidential nominee, was targeted with nativist smears for the second night in a row yesterday by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson – an attack amplified by Trump on Twitter.
Matthew Toporowski conceded the Democratic primary race for Albany County district attorney to incumbent David Soares, ending a progressive campaign backed by Mayor Kathy Sheehan and national celebrities.
Mary Kay Letourneau, the Seattle-area teacher who gained national notoriety when she pleaded guilty to raping her sixth-grade student Vili Fualaau, died yesterday of cancer at 58, her attorney confirmed.
Christian Cooper, an avid bird watcher whose viral video showed a frantic dog-walking white woman calling 911 to complain that he was “an African American man threatening my life” in Central Park, says he wants no part in her prosecution.
“On the one hand, she’s already paid a steep price,” Cooper, 57, said, referring to the criminal charge. “That’s not enough of a deterrent to others?”
An SUV driver was taken in custody after driving through a crowd and over a barrier of bicycles that Black Lives Matters protesters used to try to prevent traffic on a Midtown Manhattan road.
Suffolk County detectives continued to canvass for crime scene video of a motorist driving into a crowd of Black Lives Matters protesters Monday, as demonstrators rallied again yesterday in Kings Park and called for heightened charges in the case.
A judge dropped several criminal charges against Akbar Rogers, the Freeport man whose Dec. 3 arrest by police went viral because of the officers’ alleged use of force.
Two Nassau lawmakers are proposing a 24-hour toll-free hotline and website in which victims of alleged police misconduct can file complaints, an effort they say will add transparency to the current process.
Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford has launched an internal probe into the actions of a police officer on Monday who Clifford said placed his knee on the head of a man he was arresting on Brandywine Avenue.
A lengthier video of an arrest that showed a city police officer appearing to kneel on a suspect’s neck has emerged. New footage shows the officer punching Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud six times, his knee on the neck of the suspect as Gaindarpersaud wailed and writhed Monday on a concrete slab.
The first in a series of monthly community conversations on race and policing in Saratoga Springs will be held tonight.
An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers back federal police reforms – including banning chokeholds and creating a national database of officer misconduct – but are hesitant to support widespread calls to defund the police, according to a new Siena poll.
Albany Police are launching a new program to recruit officers from their own city streets. The paid Police Cadet Program aims to increase diversity in the department.
The Albany Common Council has introduced police reform legislation and members are calling on the public for their input.
The city of Rochester will be placing all police disciplinary files into an online database before the end of the year, City Hall officials announced.
In the two days since the Rochester police began their investigation into who tore down the statue of the renowned Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and as prominent leaders have linked the destruction to a variety of ideological motivations, it remains unclear who vandalized the statue or why.
Sports are cut for city students in the proposed 2020-21 school budget that will go to Rensselaer City School District voters on July 28.
The mother of a Bethlehem student is suing the school district after her son, who has autism and is severely disabled, was left outside his place of work for two hours in 2019.
Tensions around development in the City of Albany continued as the Common Council passed an ordinance, 12-2, that strips the ability of the city’s Planning Board to grant developers waivers from rules within the city’s zoning code.
Albany’s New World Bistro restaurant has a husband-and-wife team as its new executive chefs.
Preparations are underway in Saratoga Springs for the start of the 2020 Saratoga racing season. Without fans allowed at the Saratoga Race Course, both the city and the Saratoga Springs Police Department are working together to ensure the safety of residents and those who are visiting.
An initial bail hearing and arraignment for alleged Jeffrey Epstein fixer Ghislaine Maxwell will be held via video conference early next week, a Manhattan federal court judge ordered.
New York’s financial-services regulator fined Deutsche Bank AG $150 million for failing to properly monitor its dealings with late financier and convicted sex offender Epstein.
Chief Justice John Roberts, 65, was briefly hospitalized on June 21 after falling while walking at a country club near his home, a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court. He was treated for an injury to his forehead, which required sutures.
Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of the Hudson River, from Haverstraw Bay to New York Harbor, according to Hudson monitoring organization Riverkeeper.
Photo credit: George Fazio.