Rise and Shine: Aug. 19, 2020

Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers. Happy National Aviation Day.

Yup. That’s an official thing. It was, in fact, FDR who issued the first presidential proclamation in 1939 to “observe the day with activities that interest aviation” and honor those who helped pioneer aviation in the United States and promote an interest in aviation.

This date was not randomly selected, and is actually a significant moment in aviation history. Aug. 19 is the birthday of Orville Wright, one of the legendary Wright Brothers who invented the airplane and flew the first flying machine into the skies over Kitty Hawk, N.C. in 1903.

It is not hyperbole to say that the aviation industry is in dire straits at the moment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The combination of travel restrictions imposed in an effort to curb the infection rate coupled with a dramatically reduced desire on the part of travelers to actually go to the airport and get on a plane has resulted in cancelled flights, layoffs and massive revenue losses.

Some experts are saying this is the worst crisis ever faced by the industry, which could take years to recover.

Some observances of this day are taking place in a scaled back and socially distant manner.

If you’re not able to travel – even by car – at the moment, NASA has some ideas about how you might celebrate “those with the right stuff.”

On this day in 1692, five people were hung in Salem, Massachusetts for the crime of witchcraft. The five, one woman and four men – Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Willard, George Jacobs and John Proctor – were caught up in the hysteria caused an unusual affliction of young women in the town.

Oddly, on this VERY SAME DAY in 1612, three women from Samlesbury in Lancashire, England were put on trial for witchcraft. In short: Aug. 19 was not a good day for witches.

Also on this day in 2008, Lady Gaga released her debut album – “The Fame” – which went on to become the Grammy Award Album of the Year and the Best Electronic/Dance Album of 2009. The album produced the global chart-topping singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”.

And one more item of note: It’s World Photography Day. These days, thanks to the advent of phones with cameras in them, everyone is an amateur photographer. Share your best shots with the world today.

OK, I lied, THIS is the last item of note: Today’s Google Doodle marks what would be (if we lived that long) the 190th birthday of Julius Lothar Meyer, a German chemist, professor and author, who was one of two scientists to pioneer the earliest periodic tables and discover the periodic law of chemical elements. He actually never used his given first name and was known throughout his life as “Lothar.”

There’s a mix of sun and clouds in the forecast today, with temperatures in the mid-70s. Nice and comfortable. Shut off those air conditioners and open those windows and get some fresh air.

In the headlines…

Democrats formally made Joe Biden their presidential nominee, a role he has sought for more than three decades, capping a come-from-behind victory in the primaries he secured with a broad coalition of his party’s voters.

Biden was formally nominated with an extraordinary virtual roll call vote that showcased the cultural diversity of the Democrats’ coalition and exposed a generational gulf that is increasingly defining the party.

Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, painted a personal portrait of her husband and family last night, striking a deeply unifying tone in her virtual address to the Democratic National Convention.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez formally seconded the presidential nomination of Sen. Bernie Sanders at the DNC.

Ocasio-Cortez, who was only given 90 seconds to speak, spoke about Sanders’ movement to “repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny and homophobia” and not once addressed Biden, 77, who will be crowned the party’s nominee. (It was a procedural vote).

U.S. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer slammed Trump for his handling of the coronavirus, civil unrest and immigration during his brief speech at the DNC.

Former President Bill Clinton also delivered a stinging attack on Trump at the DNC, saying the nation knows what he’d do with four more years in the White House: “Blame, bully and belittle.”

Trump, on the campaign trail in Arizona, accused Biden of seeking to throw open United States borders to criminals and disease, using the backdrop of the border city here to stoke fears of immigrants as Democrats prepared for the second day of the party’s nominating convention.

Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy reversed course yesterday, saying that all changes being made to the Postal Service would be suspended until after the Nov. 3 election, just as 20 Democratic states announced plans to file federal lawsuits.

DeJoy, whose sweeping cost-cutting measures at USPS have raised alarms about mail delays that could impact the November vote, said in a statement that he’s temporarily halting “some longstanding operational initiatives” that “predate my arrival at the Postal Service.” He didn’t cite which specific initiatives he was suspending.

A Republican-controlled Senate panel that spent three years investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election released a report that laid out an extensive web of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Kremlin officials and other Russians – including at least one intelligence officer and others tied to the country’s spy services.

It is the fifth and probably final report into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. When asked about the document, Trump said he “didn’t read it”.

U.S. Senate Republican leaders are preparing a slimmed-down coronavirus relief package of roughly $500 billion that will include extended payments for unemployed people and smaller businesses, a GOP senator said.

The S&P 500 closed at its highest level ever yesterday, capping a remarkable rebound fueled by unprecedented government stimulus and optimism among investors about the world’s ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon is expanding its physical offices in six U.S. cities and adding thousands of corporate jobs in those areas, an indication the tech giant is making long-term plans around office work even as other companies embrace lasting remote employment.

Roche Holding has agreed to help manufacture and distribute a promising investigational drug for Covid-19 being developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a pairing of rivals that could more than triple supplies of the medicine if it is authorized by regulators, the companies said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is writing a book focusing largely on his response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to its publisher, Crown Books. “American Crisis,” is set for release in October, just three weeks before the presidential election.

Critics slammed Cuomo for writing a book about the pandemic when the crisis is still ongoing. NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy accused Cuomo of capitalizing on the pandemic.

Financial terms for “American Crisis” were not disclosed. Cuomo was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose other clients include former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

In an excerpt of the book, Cuomo wrote: “The questions are what do you do with the fear and would you succumb to it. I would not allow the fear to control me. The fear kept my adrenaline high and that was a positive. But I would not let the fear be a negative, and I would not spread it. Fear is a virus also.”

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican who was defeated by Cuomo in the 2018 elections, said the governor should have had “the dignity and respect” to wait until the pandemic ends before writing a book “telling us what a great job he did.”

The Bronx has the highest percentage of people testing positive for new coronavirus antibodies out of all of New York City’s five boroughs, according to city data released yesterday.

The number of apartments for rent in New York City has soared to the highest rate in more than a decade, a sign that a notable number of residents have left the city because of the outbreak, at least temporarily, potentially creating a new obstacle to reviving the local economy.

As if New York City’s real estate industry didn’t have enough to worry about, a proposed pied-à-terre tax has taken a step forward in Albany.

A recent study by Azurite Consulting, a data research firm, found that 54 percent of companies in major downtown areas, like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco were considering or planning to move out of the city.

Alaska and Delaware were put back on a list of states that require a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers entering New York from those destinations.

Hotels and short-term rentals in New York City are now required to make out-of-state guests fill out a traveler form before giving them access to their rooms, to ensure that they quarantine if warranted.

With less than three weeks before schools welcome back students in a mix of in-person and virtual learning settings, district leaders are also preparing to reopen with significantly less state aid.

The University of Notre Dame paused in-person instruction yesterday, a day after a similar move by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Notre Dame is putting the classes online for two weeks and not sending students home, apparently in hopes that the infections won’t grow worse.

Ithaca College officials, in a striking change of heart, announced that they will not be welcoming students back to campus for an in-person fall semester and will instead be extending online-only instruction.

Forgoing a national search, the SUNY Board of Trustees — made up predominantly of Cuomo appointees — is expected to announce as soon as today that Jim Malatras, the president of SUNY Empire State College and a longtime political ally of the governor, will be the new chancellor of the 64-school state university system.

Nowhere has the disruption of the pandemic for college students been more pronounced than in New York, where a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for some out-of-state travelers has created havoc for students from those states.

Nearly one in 10 city principals are likely to work remotely next year. A total of 157 city school leaders — or 9 percent — have applied for COVID-19 medical exemptions to work from home, according to the Department of Education.

While the city’s public schools are still fumbling with a planned mix of in-person and remote learning, most of the 66 Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens will start the year with full-time classroom instruction, officials announced.

The state Division of Budget had lots of bad news in its quarterly report for New Yorkers last week, with a growing deficit and projected cuts to schools and local governments. The bad news did not extend, however, to the $300 million Environmental Protection Fund.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman wants to leave the state Senate, where he’s served since 2013 and has been behind high-profile bills like the Child Victims Act, to become the next Manhattan borough president.

Assembly Democrats are up in arms over the NYC Democratic Socialists of America calling on political candidates not to travel to Israel.

…”No political organization that embeds antisemitism into its platform should be welcome in the halls of our legislature,” the lawmakers wrote.

A new union-backed bill being floated by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, of Queens, would require businesses across the state to adopt enforceable health and safety standards to stem the spread of coronavirus.

New York’s top insurance regulator has filed charges against two international drugmakers it claims violated state law when they marketed opioid products as safe and medically appropriate for treating a “broad spectrum” of pain.

Housing justice is health care justice. That’s the point health care professionals emphasized as they joined advocates and state lawmakers to push for legislation that would ensure New Yorkers do not lose their homes during a public health crisis.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that it would return to front-door boarding and begin collecting fares on buses in New York City on Aug. 31.

Managerial incompetence is turning NYC into a trash-infested rodent paradise, Comptroller Scott Stringer said, blaming Mayor de Blasio for the pungent problem.

The deadline to enroll in the state’s health insurance marketplace has been extended another 30 days to Sept. 15.

A federal judge in Brooklyn will not sentence Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman for her NXIVM-related crimes until Sept. 30, but he already has unloaded on her new defense attorney for downplaying her actions.

Only one city in the country is suffering more than Buffalo from the financial devastation of the COVID crisis. And that’s Rochester, just an hour down the Thruway.

A new committee will decide the fate of those involved in the pandemic pay debacle that’s plagued Saratoga County government since March.

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors decided not to remove the county administrator in a meeting last night.

Community leaders in the City of Albany have begun to develop strategies that address police reform after Cuomo linked this year’s rise in violence to an executive order for local governments to address racial inequities in policing.

Warren County has been declared coronavirus free for the first time since June 17.

The DEC is launching disciplinary proceedings against a forest ranger who is accused of having sex and moonlighting as a municipal police officer while on duty for the agency, as well as purloining state exercise equipment for a fitness center he co-owns.

An attorney for one of the fired Minneapolis cops involved in the death of George Floyd is claiming the victim overdosed and charges should be dropped.

A man on Long Island was arrested earlier this week for allegedly threatening to open fire at a Jewish children’s camp over a social distancing complaint, police said.

A Long Island attorney who specializes in representing people who won major lottery jackpots was arrested by the FBI, along with a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family, on charges of ripping off the winners of three lotteries for a total of $107 million, federal prosecutors said.

Seven people were shot — one fatally — in a three-hour rash of violence across NYC last night, police said.

The NYPD has created a first-ever Asian Hate Crimes Task Force in the wake of a string of incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic that targeted Asians, officials announced.

Embattled scooter-sharing company Revel has a new plan to keep people safe on its mopeds — making riders take a selfie to prove they’re wearing a helmet.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has hinted about it for weeks as COVID-19 cases in the state surged, and yesterday he made it official: The state won’t reopen to tourism until October at the earliest.

Connecticut health officials failed to develop a plan to protect nursing homes in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and were also hampered by an outdated outbreak-monitoring system, according to an independent, state-funded report.

Cuba Gooding Jr. has been accused of raping a woman twice after coaxing her into his room at a Manhattan hotel in 2013, in a lawsuit filed against the actor yesterday.

One of the National Rifle Association’s highest ranking executives – former chief of staff to CEO Wayne LaPierre – is poised to release a tell-all book that apparently will detail an organization “rife with fraud and corruption” and with finances in “shambles.”

NBCUniversal said Vice Chairman Ron Meyer, a towering Hollywood figure, stepped down after failing to properly disclose that he had paid a settlement to a woman with whom he had a consensual affair several years ago.

Washington State scientists are abuzz with the capture of the first live male Asian giant hornet to be detected in the U.S.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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