Welcome to Monday and the last day of August 2020, sweet CivMixers. I hope you all had a lovely weekend.
Over the weekend in Georgia, Atlanta, a two-week operation by the Missing Child Unit of the U.S. Marshals Service came to a happy resolution. The op was run in cooperation with its own Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and also with the help of many local and state agencies.
Dubbed “Operation Not Forgotten,” 39 missing children were located. Twenty-six of them were rescued, and the safety of 13 others was verified.
On a personal note, as previously mentioned, I am a massive fan of all things Marvel, from the original comics to stanning over Stan Lee, to, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This weekend, 2020, struck again when the news of Chadwick Boseman passing away from prostate cancer at 43.
Unbeknownst to most of the world, he had been struggling with the illness for four years, through filming many of his greatest movies. He was a fantastic talent and the only man who could have brought T’Challa and the Black Panther to life as perfectly as he did. Rest in peace and power, legend. Thank you for your unbelievable talent and light. We will miss you in this world, which is a little dimmer with you gone. Wakanda Forever.
Let’s see what headlines will usher us into the first week of September.
1) The residential election is heating up, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, former VP to President Obama, is starting to use a harsher tone and language when it comes to his opponent, President Donald Trump. Speaking today from Pittsburgh, PA, Biden not only slammed what he said was Trump’s mishandling of recent political and civil unrest and violence, but accused him of fueling it for years.
During his first live and in-person campaign trip since accepting the DNC’s nomination two weeks ago, Biden spoke to supporters from Mill 19. In his speech, he touched on a few different topics, but was particularly vehement when discussing protesting and violence.
Though he allowed that there is and must be a difference between legal, peaceful protests and rioting, looting and lawlessness, Biden laid much of the blame for the violence on Trump.
His comments today were likely a response to Vice President Mike Pence, who, during the RNC last week, claimed that people would be unsafe in “Joe Biden’s America.” Biden pointed out that the violence is taking place right now, on Trump’s watch, not in some future alternate universe in which a Democrat is in charge.
Biden said Trump will do whatever it takes to remain in power – including fear-mongering – and that his toxic attitude is poisoning America.
The former VP also responded to accusations from the Trump administration that he is going to ban fracking – a point that is key in the battleground state of PA. Biden made it quite clear, that no matter what the other side might say, he has no intention of prohibiting fracking (something the environmentalists no doubt did not enjoy hearing one bit).
Biden sought to strike a tone of optimism and hope in the midst of devastation, fear, and exhaustion.
2) At a time when news stories hit hard and fast, it is easy to lose sight of some of them – especially in an election year riddled with a tweet-happy President, a punchy opponent, a history-making VP pick, civil unrest, protests, riots, and an international pandemic.
Back in May 2020, a mother of two, Suzanne Morphew, left for a Mother’s Day bike ride in her home state of Colorado. She never returned.
This past Saturday, residents of Alexandria, Indiana, Morphew’s home state, held a memorial for her. Her brother, Andrew Moorman, said he has heard nothing about where his baby sister is, or what might have happened to her.
Moorman described Morphew as a gentle soul, someone who could light up any room she entered. Alexandria certainly has not forgotten her, as they held a candlelight vigil Saturday, and the town is dotted with multiple yellow ribbons on trees, placed there to remind everyone of her missing persons case.
Moorman also announced that he has plans to go to Colorado at the end of next month, intending to lead his own search for his sister. He is hoping that he can get a minimum of 1,000 fellow searchers to join him when he heads out on Sept. 24.
Moorman is accepting volunteers from anywhere, but is particularly interested in those who might have ATVs or boats they could lend, though he will need boots on the ground as well.
According to Moorman, the family is done waiting on the official investigation. They now need answers, so he is coming in to look for them himself. According to Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze, the case is active and until they get some hint as to what has happened to Morphew, they can not eliminate anyone as a suspect.
If you have any information about the case, please call the dedicated tip line at (719) 312-7530.
3) New York City has finally agreed to a settlement of $5.9 million with the family of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, a transgender woman who died while in custody on Rikers Island in June of 2019.
She was first arrested in April 2019 for misdemeanor assault and harassment charges, but had had missed court dates in the system that were from previous prostitution charges and was taken into custody.
Unable to pay $500 bail, she was remanded to Rikers. She was placed in solitary confinement, and on June 7, 2019, she was found dead in her cell. According to the autopsy, her death was due to a complication due to her epilepsy. Polanco’s family believes that the decision to place her solitary directly contributed to her death.
With the announcement of the settlement, the NYC Law Department also released a statement saying that this incident was an “absolute tragedy.” They pledged to continue working to make reforms to bail and the corrections system as a whole to make law and justice more fair, safer, and humane for everyone.
In the same month as Polanco’s arrest, the state passed bail reforms that took effect in February 2020. Under these reforms, mot nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors no longer required cash bail, which means if she had been arrested after Jan. 31 of this year, Polanco never would have been placed in that cell in the first place.
4) Last week, on Aug. 23, the USFDA gave emergency authorization to use convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19. A local woman, Chelsea Leeder, decided that she wanted to help after she had survived the virus.
Though there is still a debate raging as to how useful this treatment could be, Red Cross Albany District Manager Sonja Ronovech said that blood from survivors contains antibodies to COVID and was part of what helped people fight off the virus. Ronovech claims that during the pandemic, there has been a lot of success using this method as a treatment.
Today, Leeder went to the Red Cross in Albany and donated her plasma, despite disliking needles. She contracted the illness after working in Europe in March. She was in the UK just as their outbreak started, and she was feeling off when she got home.
Since recovering, Leeder has donated plasma three times. She had a mild case and knew how lucky she was. She is hoping to pay it forward.
If you have recovered from COVID-19 and are interested in donating, please see how easy it is here.
5) This morning, I-90 was shut down between 25A and 26, westbound, according to the State Police. At approximately 2:25 a.m., NYSP Troop T received some calls that there was powdery debris on the highway.
The substance has since been identified as iron oxide, which officials say is only hazardous if someone has continuous, direct contact with it.
According to the traffic update site, the area is reopened.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.