Rise and Shine: Aug. 12, 2020

Good Wednesday morning CivMixers, and welcome to the Glorious Twelfth.

Oh. That doesn’t mean anything to you, does it? Well, that’s what I’m here for – to elucidate you on all sorts of obscure and arguably useless information.

Today might be just another ordinary day here in the U.S., but across the pond, it’s a big deal (for a certain subset of society) as it marks the start of the shooting season for red grouse, which can be found only in Britain and are the one of most expensive game birds. Also to a lesser extent, it’s the start of the season for the ptarmigan in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This is one of the busiest shooting days in the UK, with massive amounts of game taken.

According to our friend Wikipedia, the legislation that enshrines this particular day in England and Wales is the Game Act 1831, and in Northern Ireland, it’s the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Not all game have the same start to their open seasons – most begin on Sept. 1, and Oct. 1 for woodcock and pheasant. English law prohibits game bird shooting on a Sunday, so the start date is postponed to Aug. 13 on years when the 12th falls on that traditional day of rest.

Of course, this year’s Glorious Twelfth has been hampered by the pandemic. Efforts are being made to keep people socially distanced, provide them with PPE and restrict travel to some degree. And yes, the day is definitely not without controversy, as it is not at all popular among conservationists and environmentalists.

It’s also International Youth Day, which seeks to raise awareness to the cultural and legal issues faced by youth throughout the world. (The UN defines “youths” as those who are aged 15 to 24).

A number of famous people worth mentioning passed away on this day in history, including: Actress Lauren Bacall (2014), guitarist Les Paul (2009) actor Henry Fonda (1982), artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1988), gay rights activist Edie Windsor (2017), TV host and media mogul Merv Griffin (2007) and novelist Ian Fleming (AKA, the man who invented James Bond, 1964).

What an illustrious group, right?! I hope they’re all hanging out together in the afterlife – that would be some dinner party.

We’re in for a lovely day, with temperatures in the high 80s, sunny skies and some light winds.

In the headlines…

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his newly announced running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will deliver remarks together today in Wilmington, Delaware.

Harris is the first Black woman and the first woman of Asian descent nominated for vice president by a major party.

Harris brings to the race a far more vigorous campaign style than Biden’s, including a gift for capturing moments of raw political electricity on the debate stage and elsewhere, and a personal identity and family story that many find inspiring.

Weeks after President Donald Trump called Harris a “fine choice,” Trump allies began painting her as too liberal due to her record on taxes, health care and immigration.

Trump donated to Harris twice while she was a candidate for California attorney general, according to public records, giving her $6,000 all told: $5,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2013.

Russia announced that its vaccine had been approved by its health regulators, making it the first coronavirus vaccine in the world to be registered. Full-scale production is due to start next month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of his daughters had already taken the vaccine, though no data has yet been published by the researchers and the long-term effects and safety of this possible vaccine currently remain unclear.

In a congratulatory note to the nation, Putin thanked the scientists who developed the vaccine for “this first, very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”

Russia’s move was met with international skepticism and unease because the shots have only been studied in dozens of people.

A research team at the University of Florida succeeded in isolating live virus from aerosols collected at a distance of seven to 16 feet from patients hospitalized with Covid-19 — farther than the six feet recommended in social distancing guidelines.

Public release of hospital data about the coronavirus pandemic has slowed to a crawl, one month after the federal government ordered states to report it directly to the Department of Health and Human Services and bypass the CDC.

The U.S. reported more than 46,000 new coronavirus cases, similar to the tallies of the past two days, while death rates in parts of the country continued to rise.

Body camera footage made public from two Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest captured a panicked and fearful Floyd pleading with the officers in the minutes before his death, saying “I’m not a bad guy!” as they tried to wrestle him into a squad car.

The uncensored footage, which runs just over 30 minutes, is the first start-to-finish view of the May 25 incident that sparked worldwide outrage.

People who have been arrested since late May on non-violent misdemeanor charges during protests that have racked Oregon’s largest city for more than 70 days won’t be prosecuted.

With passengers gone and Covid-19 lurking, thousands of cruise ship crew members remained stuck on vessels for weeks waiting to get home.

The chief executive of Eastman Kodak Co. said the company supports a federal agency’s decision to halt a potential loan to the company, backing the move in Kodak’s first earnings call since the potential deal was announced about two weeks ago.

Trump called NBA players “very nasty” and “very dumb” in a radio interview while expressing his disapproval of the league’s players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

“If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open,” Trump said. While he hasn’t spoken to any owners about players kneeling during the national anthem, he said “they know my feelings very well, they’ve been expressed.”

Two of the nation’s wealthiest and most powerful football conferences – the Pac-12 and the Big Ten – abandoned their plans to play this fall over coronavirus concerns, a move that fractured the season and promised repercussions far beyond the playing field, even as other top leagues were publicly poised to begin games next month.

The U.K. economy contracted by 20.4 percent in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the previous three months, as coronavirus-induced lockdowns hammered activity, according to preliminary figures released today.

Trump’s executive order to boost weekly aid for unemployed Americans is meant to alleviate “acute financial distress” for families across the country. However, restrictions on that extra assistance — a $400-a-week increase in benefits — means it likely won’t be available to a big chunk of unemployed workers.

The Trump administration appears to have walked back its plan to require states to chip in for enhanced unemployment benefits after an outcry from governors, including New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom of California, and Arkansas’ Asa Hutchinson.

The president’s unilateral deferring of payroll taxes has given Democrats an opening to raise Social Security cuts as an issue in the final months of an election in which his support among older voters already appears to be shaky.

Democrats and Trump administration officials walked away from the negotiating table after a week of fruitless discussions over extending unemployment aid and paycheck protection.

Trump attacked Mayor Bill de Blasio for doing a “horrible” job handling New York City during the pandemic.

Even as the city has contained the virus and slowly reopens, there are ominous signs that some national brands are starting to abandon New York.

Visitors from Hawaii, South Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands coming into New York will have to quarantine for two weeks, as Cuomo announced the additions to his travel advisory.

…Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington were removed from the coronavirus quarantine list.

Connecticut this week issued its first $1,000 fines to two residents who failed to fill out health forms required upon returning home from states with high coronavirus infection rates.

New York City’s oldest beer garden – Bohemian Hall in Astoria, Queens – has been shut down for violating health rules during the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo announced.

New York City’s famed 90-year-old tobacco shop, the Nat Sherman Townhouse, which is owned by tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., is closing for good on Sept. 25, company officials said.

The exodus that began at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, with many New Yorkers departing to their beach and country homes, has continued unabated as more leave for good, according to city moving companies overwhelmed by the avalanche of ex-pats.

The coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes may be significantly higher than previously documented, according to a new analysis.

Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.

Janice Dean, a meteorologist at Fox News, lost two family members to the Covid-19 in New York nursing homes, and she wants answers.

Four New York prisons remain a COVID-19 hotbed — even as the number of positive cases statewide continues to drop.

The owner of the Upper West Side’s Lucerne hotel insists that there are “no problems” at the site, now housing hundreds of homeless – including recovering drug addicts — even as he’s put his own area mansion up for sale since the new neighbors moved in.

Actor Michael Imperioli is known for his role in HBO’s “The Sopranos” and the popular podcast he co-hosts about the series. Now he’s speaking out about rising crime and homelessness in the city – especially the Upper West Side.

A bill requiring all car passengers 16 and older to wear a seat belt was signed by Cuomo yesterday. The new law is an effort to reduce automobile accident fatalities and casualties and will take effect Nov. 1.

“It was under my father’s leadership that New York became the first state in the country to pass a seat belt law, and the nation followed his lead,” Cuomo said. “Now we are building upon this legacy and helping to create a safer and stronger Empire State for all.”

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed jointly by five racetracks across New York that claimed Cuomo’s executive order barring spectators at the motor-sports venues to slow the spread of the coronavirus violated several constitutional protections.

New York state expects to get deluged with up to 5 million mail-in ballots in the November general election amid the coronavirus pandemic, four times more than the 1.2 million received in the June 23 primary, the state’s top elections official said.

“We recognize there were problems,” said Todd Valentine, co-executive director of the state Board of Elections, at a legislative hearing on Tuesday. But he warned: “The system itself does not turn quickly.”

Following the exit of New York Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe, Board of Regents Chancellor Dr. Betty Rosa will step in to lead the department as interim commissioner.

More than 35,000 customers in New York remain without power a week after Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the state. Utilities have been working around the clock with help from city and state crews to clear trees, repair downed power lines and restore service to customers since Isaias hit the state Aug. 4.

More than 15,750 PSEG Long Island customers remained in the dark and without air conditioning last night, left pleading for assistance one week after powerful winds from Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the region.

Cuomo’s threat to revoke the franchise of PSEG to operate the Long Island electric grid for LIPA may run into a couple of snags: PSEG Long Island doesn’t operate the grid under a franchise agreement and is not regulated by the state Public Service Commission.

A panel of local business executives, university presidents, union leaders and nonprofit officials has been directed by New York State to come up with a plan for Long Island’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the nation’s largest egg producers, Hillandale Farms, has been accused by New York authorities of raking in $4 million in illegal revenue by gouging customers with exorbitantly high prices when the state was grappling with rising coronavirus cases.

New York residents who said the state’s gun licensing laws violated their fundamental right to possess firearms lacked standing to challenge the regulations and failed to show that the criteria for licensing were impermissibly vague, the Second Circuit ruled.

Someone taped an anti-Semitic note to the storefront of Upper East Side Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright’s legislative office.

De Blasio denied there is an NYPD slowdown, instead touting a “consistent increase” in arrests — despite department stats showing that arrests are down, along with the issuance of traffic tickets.

A pair of pro-cop groups are suing de Blasio after being denied a Blue Lives Matter mural akin to the one Black Lives Matter had splashed across Fifth Avenue.

The words “Black People” added by Democrats to the title of a resolution Republicans originally entitled “Calling for Racial Justice for People of Color” ended the legislation before it could go before the full Rensselaer County Legislature last night.

Some Capital Region school districts are delaying the first day of school to get teachers and staff up to speed on social distancing and contact tracing protocol.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Albany are seeing an increase in inquiries and enrollment, since districts around the Capital Region released their reopening plans.

Rensselaer County will save $3 million in interest costs, which is $500,000 more than anticipated, as a result of refinancing $21.6 million in bonds from 2012, county officials said.

The Capital District Transportation Authority will resume front-door boarding and fare collections on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Passengers 2 years and older will be required to wear masks covering their nose and mouth unless medically unable to do so.

After a peak in gun violence this summer Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins plan to discuss recent gun violence and provide updates in the investigations this morning at City Hall.

The town of Bethlehem is planning to charge retailers $270 for a tobacco sales license as a way to crack down on underage smoking and vaping.

A Schenectady family is suing Guptill’s Roller Skating Arena, claiming the arena discriminated against their 17-year-old daughter because she uses a wheelchair.

The annual New York Comic Con, which was scheduled to be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Oct. 8 through Oct. 11, is going virtual. It is the latest comic book convention to go online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials closed swimming off South Shore beaches in Point Lookout and Nickerson Beach after sharks were spotted for a second day. Hempstead Town officials said a large shark was spotted at 3:15 p.m. off Nickerson Beach. Officials closed swimming at Nassau County’s Nickerson Beach and at town beaches through the afternoon.

The Perseids, considered by stargazers to be the best meteor shower of the summer, is set to peak today, according to NASA.

The once behemoth Blockbuster video rental chain’s final location in the world – in Bend, Oregon – will soon be a rentable Airbnb property, the company announced on Tuesday.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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