Rise and Shine: Aug. 13, 2020

It’s Thursday, CivMixers. How did THAT happen?!

This week is somehow both crawling and flying by. I cannot explain the physics of this. I just know it’s true.

We are almost smack-dab in the middle of Romance Awareness Month. I missed the start of this one. Intimacy is a funny thing. It requires being close, which is something we are being encouraged NOT to indulge in these days (at least not with strangers, and even those who know, but not, you know, intimately).

And as for the individuals in our respective COVID-19 bubbles, well, “quarantine breeds contempt” ought to be a saying. There is such as thing as too much closeness. #Truth.

Romance and intimacy, of course, are not the same thing.

Romance is when you do the dishes without being asked AND without requiring acknowledgement or praise – flowers, my friends, having nothing on this, trust me. Intimacy, on the other hand, (outside of intercourse, let’s say, for argument’s sake), is trading stories about your day while cuddling on the couch.

Today happens to be Left Handers Day. This is a day that celebrates only 10 percent of humans on the planet, which seems a little unfair to me. If you do happen to be one of the chosen few, you’re in good company, as so are Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga – just to name a few.

Interesting facts:

According to the National Institutes of Health, hand preference develops before birth and becomes apparent in early childhood. While little is known about biological basis of handedness, it is believed to arise out of the developmental process differentiating the right and left sides of the body.The right hemisphere of the brain controls the left part of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the right part of the body.

Recent studies suggest that up to 40 genes contribute to handedness….Only a few of the genes that effect handedness have been identified.

Studies show lefties adjust easier to seeing underwater and studies have found evidence linking left-handedness and intellectual creativity.

A study found that right-handers, on average, live to be nine years older than left-handers.

The highest rates of left-handedness can be found in North America, Australia, New Zealand and western Europe. Whereas the lowest rates, between 4 and 6 percent, are found in Asia, Africa and South America.

So, get out those lefty scissors today and smudge your freshly written words with pride!

Another nice day is on tap, with temperatures in the high 80s and a mix of sun and clouds in the forecast, according to The Weather Channel.

In the headlines…

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their debut together as running mates yesterday afternoon in Wilmington, Del., a day after Biden announced his choice of the California senator to join him on the 2020 Democratic ticket, with Harris vowing to prosecute the political case against the Trump-Pence ticket.

The first full day for the newly announced Democratic presidential ticket offered a glimpse of how two once-bitter rivals from opposite coasts and different generations will try to unite Americans around their platform.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, an introductory rally in front of throngs of supporters is not possible. Instead, the two walked out wearing masks, and one person sat several feet away as the other spoke.

In selecting Harris as his running mate, Biden has chosen a candidate that political scientists and campaign strategists say will shore up support among key voting blocs that are critical to ensuring a victory in the fall.

Harris laid out the Democratic case against Trump in her first speech as a VP candidate, arguing that Trump isn’t “up to the job.”

Wall Street cheered Harris’ candidacy. The warm welcome reflects some relief that in choosing her, Biden has—for now at least—fended off the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party that has called for tougher financial regulation.

Opening an ugly new chapter in the 2020 campaign, Trump, his GOP allies, and Fox News have swiftly gone all-in on sexist and personal attacks against Harris, from Trump demeaning her as “angry” and “horrible” to commentators mocking her first name to comparing her to “payday lenders.”

Herman Cain’s Twitter account has shared an attack on Biden and Harris despite the former Republican presidential candidate having died earlier this year.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have discussed with federal officials how the social-media platforms can prevent the spread of misinformation in the days before and after the election, after the U.S. intelligence community warned of foreign interference and President Trump called the vote’s integrity into question.

The United States logged nearly 1,500 coronavirus-related deaths yesterday, marking the deadliest day of the summer so far. The count of fatalities is the highest since mid-May, signaling that the United States does not have the pandemic under control despite stabilizing case numbers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on face masks, warning that those with valves or vents do not prevent the wearer from spreading Covid-19 to others.

U.S. stocks climbed yesterday, extending a steady August rally that has pushed the S&P 500 to the cusp of its first record close since the coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a halt.

Spending cuts by state and local governments grappling with the coronavirus pandemic pose a headwind to the U.S. economic recovery as lawmakers consider how much federal aid to provide.

Sales tax collections have dropped statewide by 8.2 percent last month, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, despite some areas appearing to rally in June.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin clashed after speaking on the phone yesterday about stalled coronavirus relief legislation.

Trump vowed to permanently abolish the payroll tax at the beginning of 2021 if he is re-elected in November.

Trump says the U.S. Postal Service is incapable of facilitating mail-in voting because it cannot access the emergency funding he is blocking, and made clear that requests for additional aid were nonstarters in coronavirus relief negotiations.

“The bill’s not going to happen because they (the Democrats) don’t even want to talk about it, because we can’t give them the kind of ridiculous things that they want that have nothing to do with the China virus,” the president said during an evening news briefing, using a term criticized as racially insensitive.

Nearly $134 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans went unused despite multiple extensions of the application deadline and a last-minute push by lenders, federal data show. The federal government’s flagship coronavirus-relief program ended Aug. 8.

The Trump administration proposed rule changes that would allow shower heads to boost water pressure, after the president repeatedly complained that bathroom fixtures do not work to his liking.

Trump blasted HBO’s Bill Maher, saying the “Real Time” host looks “terrible, exhausted, gaunt, and weak” on the heels of an unflattering segment about the commander-in-chief.

For Trump, the cancellation of big-time college football in the Midwest and the West — the Pac-12 Conference also canceled its season Tuesday — serves as yet another unmistakable sign of how fundamentally the pandemic has transformed American life and cast a spotlight on his administration’s handling of the crisis.

The postponement of much of the college football season could disrupt the flow of more than $1 billion from advertisers to the television networks that count on a slate of game broadcasts every fall.

Governments and restaurant owners wanted to get back to business. But bars and restaurants have become a focal point for clusters of Covid infections.

Uber would likely shut down temporarily for several months if a court does not overturn a recent ruling requiring it to classify its drivers as full-time employees, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said.

Lyft reported a dramatic drop in riders and revenue in the second quarter, as rising coronavirus infections in the U.S. and prolonged shutdowns weighed on its results.

Recreational Equipment Inc. is looking to sell its custom-made new headquarters in Seattle and allow employees to work from home or other offices, the latest sign that the pandemic is driving companies to ditch central offices to raise cash.

Networking-equipment giant Cisco Systems said it would adjust investment plans and pursue deep cost cuts as customer priorities have shifted during the coronavirus pandemic, which contributed to the company posting the first annual revenue decline in three years.

Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller said that he is shutting down his TAK Room restaurant at Hudson Yards, one of the highest-profile closings to date due to the coronavirus pandemic. The dining spot is a marquee attraction of the $25 billion complex.

A plan to bring tens of thousands of jobs to an overlooked corner of the city just outside Manhattan has become another battleground for New York City leaders. Progressives are attacking mainstream Democrats about their competing visions for the city. A powerful business is on the defensive.

Cuomo wants the bigot who taped an anti-Semitic message to the storefront of Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright’s Upper East Side office brought to justice, he said.

A progressive group that has pushed for the election of Democratic women is launching a new effort to aid nine candidates for the state Senate this year.

Dying residents of a New York nursing home were reportedly dumped at local hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report — raising even more questions about the Cuomo administration’s handling of such homes during the crisis.

Newsday’s editorial board: “The state must answer questions on nursing homes.”

The TU’s Chris Churchill accuses the Cuomo administration of keeping New Yorkers in the dark on the true rate of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

A fourth resident from The Troy Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in South Troy has died after contracting coronavirus.

The number of New Yorkers testing positive for COVID-19 remained under 1 percent for the fourth straight day, while the state hit a record high for tests given in one day, Cuomo said.

“New York is reaching new heights in its ability to track and trace the virus,” Cuomo said. “As we prepare for the fall, I urge everyone to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands, and I urge local governments to enforce state guidance on reopening.”

Doctors, nursing homes and federal officials are scrambling to get rapid-response Covid-19 antigen testing supplies from the two companies that secured emergency approval to produce them, as cases continue to rise in the U.S.

New York’s top health chief, Dr. Howard Zucker, claimed that the state’s hospitals had enough personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors during the height of the coronavirus pandemic — despite widespread reports of PPE shortages, including health workers forced to don trash bags.

Sunset Park in Brooklyn is seeing an “uptick” in coronavirus cases — with 228 people testing positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Nearly 40,000 orders from 33 different countries have been placed for copies of Cuomo’s coronavirus victory-lap poster after it was unveiled earlier this summer.

Safety inspectors discovered dangerous lead paint in NYC classrooms more than 38,000 times during the past five years — with almost half the findings in rooms that housed highly vulnerable kids in pre-K.

The city’s principals union called for a delay in the reopening of New York’s public schools to allow more time to address coronavirus concerns, the group said in a letter released yesterday.

A group of Brooklyn principals is calling for a delay to the start of classroom learning this September, saying the Department of Education is not prepared for the safe return of students during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents 6,400 school leaders, said the first few weeks of classes should be conducted remotely. Schools can’t safely reopen on Sept. 10, the union said, stressing that the city hasn’t answered questions on topics ranging from teacher staffing to hand sanitizer.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy is giving New Jersey districts the option to offer all-virtual classes when school resumes next month, relaxing his original requirement that teachers provide some in-person classroom instruction.

Five things parents should clean every day if their kids are physically going back to school: Phones, backpacks, lunchboxes, supplies, clothes and shoes.

Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James are appealing a decision against state limit on wedding sizes.

Six protesters entered State Sen. Kevin Thomas’ Garden City office yesterday and demanded to discuss legislative relief efforts with the Democrat.

All PSEG Long Island customers who lost power as Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the region Aug. 4 were restored last night, providing relief for residents who spent more than eight days in the dark, sweating and throwing out spoiled food.

According to a new report to be released this week from the private New York State Health Foundation, Black mothers in New York state were 2.3 times more likely than white mothers to experience potentially life-threatening complications during or after childbirth.

Peter Ward, 62, one of New York City’s most powerful union leaders, is stepping down as president of the Hotel Trades Council — a move sure to send shock waves through the city’s political firmament.

New York seems to be missing the kind of civic leadership that helped the city recover from previous financial and psychic crises.

De Blasio said the city is moving forward with “painfully real” plans to lay off 22,000 public workers on Oct. 1 unless another source of cash comes through.

Like gyms, New York bowling alley owners are looking for guidance from the state on when they’ll be able to reopen, and considering a lawsuit.

Trump has nominated Albany attorney Ryan McAllister, a graduate of Harvard Law School, to be U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of New York.

The state has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a DCJS manager who accused officials of ignoring sexual harassment complaints lodged against a former department director, and instead punishing her and a longtime attorney at the agency for their cooperation in an IG probe that sustained the allegations.

A fifth lawsuit accusing former Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of child sexual abuse was filed this week in state Supreme Court in Albany.

A years-long federal criminal investigation of a Glenville gun store, Target Sports Inc., was revealed last week when U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents raided the business that’s located on Route 50 near the Schenectady County Airport.

The former executive assistant to Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly, who left his post after Black Lives Matter protesters were targeted with pepper spray pellets, said he is intending to challenge his former boss in a 2021 Democratic primary.

A teenager died after he was stabbed and set on fire in a gruesome attack in a Bronx apartment hallway yesterday afternoon, police said.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with robbing the 13-year-old son of NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller two days earlier near Central Park.

Hours after paramedics treated the city’s 92nd shooting victim of the year, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins tried to reassure residents police are making headway against gun violence.

The 34-member city of Cohoes police department’s leadership will change next week as Acting Police Chief Tom Ross steps down into retirement and two lieutenants are promoted to chief and assistant chief.

The longtime chairman of the Westchester County Democratic Party, Reginald LaFayette, is facing the first substantial challenge to his leadership 16 years after taking the helm.

Former MyPayrollHR CEO Michael Mann pleaded guilty to federal charges yesterday, admitting to an elaborate and decade-long swindle of banks and finance companies across the country that caused the collapse of his payroll processing business.

Nassau County Democrats are pushing for an independent commission to redraw the county’s legislative district map, a move they say would prevent gerrymandering and “shielding” of incumbents from “meaningfully competitive election challenges.”

An assistant engineer for the state Department of Transportation pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge this week, admitting to falsifying expense receipts that enabled him to collect nearly $3,500 in fraudulent payments from the state.

In a move that was almost unthinkable before the coronavirus pandemic, Tribune Publishing said that The Daily News, once the largest-circulation newspaper in the country, was permanently closing its physical newsroom at 4 New York Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

It is the end of yet another era: Time Out New York’s print edition is no more.

Broadway might be closed until at least January, but another show is finding a home in the streaming world during the interim. “Diana,” a musical based on the life of Princess Diana, will be streamed on Netflix next year ahead of its rescheduled Broadway debut on May 25, 2021.

RIP Sumner Redstone, who turned his family’s movie-theater company into a global media empire spanning television, movies, radio and books, and who famously proclaimed that “content is king.” He died at the age of 97.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly have purchased a multi-million dollar estate in Montecito, Calif. — complete with nine bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. It cost a mere $14.5 million.

Chipmunks!

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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