Welcome to the first week in August, CivMixers. I hope you all had a great weekend and an excellent introduction to the month whose origin comes from the Latin word augustus, meaning “consecrated” or “venerable,” which in turn is related to the Latin augur, meaning “consecrated by augury” or “auspicious.”
Let us hope so.
Today was not bad, but there is a lot of rain in the forecast for the next few days. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for warnings and updates on systems moving to the area.
Alright, let’s get to it, shall we?
1) Former President Barack Obama put his ongoing popularity among fellow Democrats and still considerable political weight to endorse a series of 118 candidates running for state and federal offices in 17 separate states.
These included endorsing the challengers for Senate seats in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, and South Carolina – some of the country’s most closely watched races. Not every candidate made the cut, former astronaut Mark Kelly in Arizona, for example. Obama focused on states where primaries have already taken place, and Arizona’s is tomorrow.
Other candidates were passed over for more political reasons, such as Montana’s Steve Bullock, who is running in a traditionally red state where Obama’s support would likely do more harm than good. The same goes for those running in Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas.
The focus on state-level candidates is notable, since whichever party controls the state Legislature is going to be able to control the redistricting in 2021 that is set to happen after this year’s census
These endorsements all went to those candidates that Obama sees as key to advancing the goals that truly matter for Americans right now – fair redistricting, endorsing diverse and energetic new leaders for the current climate of change, holding the House Majority, and advancing the cause of winning the majority in the Senate. According to his office, many of the endorsements also went to those alumni of both of his campaigns and terms.
Since the start of summer, Obama has continued to up his involvement in the 2020 elections, raising an estimated $24 million for the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, former Vice President Joe Biden, who, of course, was Obama’s No. 2.
Not only has he emerged as a fundraising heavyweight, but he has also filmed many spots with Biden that were very popular on social media.
In a statement released with his endorsements, the 44th president said that his hope for the candidates he’s supporting is that they will win in November and help move the country past its current turbulent state.
“Together, these candidates will help us redeem our country’s promise by sticking up for working people, restoring fairness and opportunity to our system, and fighting for the good of all Americans — not just those at the top.”
-President Barack Obama on his 2020 endorsements
Next up for Obama is speaking at this month’s Democratic National Convention, which, of course, has been dramatically curtailed as a result of the pandemic.
2) Yesterday, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley returned to Earth safely when their Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico. This was the return of the first SpaceX flight to leave the atmosphere since 2011 when the Space Shuttle program was officially suspended.
It was a history-making two-month mission and started the U.S. back down the path of becoming a leader for human-crewed spaceflights. It was also the first time in history that a spacecraft developed and ran by a commercial company made a successful flight both out of and back into Earth’s orbit.
Once they landed safely, the two men were flown by helicopter to Houston, TX, and reunited with their families. They then made a public appearance that was streamed by NASA on their television station. They sat as they thanked those who helped make this happen and addressed questions from the press, as Hurley informed the audience that standing was not pleasant for a few hours after your return to the atmosphere.
SpaceX is, of course, the brainchild of it’s CEO, Elon Musk, who was in Houston to meet the crew members after he watched their safe landing from the mission control area in SpaceX’s Hawthorne, CA headquarters. Musk was emotional as he, too, thanked the people from both his business and NASA who worked for the past 18 years to get this flight in the air.
Since beginning its operations almost two decades ago, SpaceX has flown multitudes of satellites into orbit, but no crewed craft until this one. It was the culmination of a partnership between NASA and SpaceX that has dragged on for a decade and often was emotional and contentious. In May, the two NASA trained astronauts blasted into the air and landed aboard the International Space Station.
They stayed there for two months and then had a two-day delay in their landing due to Tropical Storm Isaias. Finally, yesterday, the capsule was able to land as the Gulf of Mexico calmed for the window of time to land. Though the area was supposed to be clear, NASA has acknowledged that they could have done better, keeping it clear and said it is an area for them to improve on in the future.
Though this was officially deemed a test flight, it was successful enough to allow the Crew Dragon spacecraft to be approved for carrying humans into space. SpaceX has two more trips planned, one in a mission named Crew-1 that will carry four astronauts into space.
The other will be in this craft (nicknamed Endeavour), which will be refurbished and able to fly again in 2021.
3) Though not typical, upstate may feel the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias as early as tonight and reaching into Wednesday. Currently, Isaias is in the Southeast Atlantic. The path it is going to follow is not clear, but as it continues north, the impact looks to be the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.
If the storm shifts to the west right now, the rain could hit Central New York instead. The path Isaias takes will ultimately dictate how far west the rain could spread.
All counties east of Binghamton and Utica are under a flash flood watch. Tomorrow afternoon into tomorrow night, rainfall could exceed an inch an hour. There is also a low-pressure system moving east across the Great Lakes that is casting some doubt into the forecast of Isaias in NYS. The Great Lakes’ low-pressure system is what meteorologists call a predecessor rain event.
That means that the soil could be soaked before Isaias hits, which means that the rain from the tropical storm would be more likely to cause flooding. The National Weather Service says that the dry climate in upstate over the past weeks will work to the region’s advantage as the soil has extra capacity to handle the rainfall.
If the storm path shifts west, the heavy rain could sweep across Central New York.
4) Last night at about 8:30 p.m., there was a fatal crash on I-87 near Ulster.
Today, the New York State Police are investigating the crash and are asking for anyone with any information on the situation to contact them.
NYSP says that as a tractor-trailer attempted to stop when coming up on stopped traffic, but instead crashed into both a Kia Sedona minivan and smashed into the backend of a Honda Accord. The Accord was pushed off the highway, and the three rear-seat passengers were killed. These passengers were Zulika Salim, 47, Chelsea Gayapersad, 14, and Justin Gayapersad, 10. The occupants of both the Accord and the Kia Sedona were family members from the Bronx.
Five people were taken to local hospitals with mostly minor injuries.
The State Police are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to call Investigator Joseph Temple at SP Kingston by calling (845) 802-9296.
5) Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed a new piece of legislation that will allow companies to make and sell frozen treats made with liquor – including boozy ice cream.
Cuomo said that this law will help both dairy farmers and craft beverage and liquor producers. Alcohol in ice cream is to be capped at 5 percent of alcohol per volume.
Keeping with the state laws regarding other products that are infused with alcohol, the legislation requires product labels and warning statements about the alcohol that is in the frozen products.
That is all for today. Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.