Rise and Shine: Aug. 28, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers. We made it to another Friday, which just so happens to be a very interesting – and significant – day, historically speaking.

On this day in 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered everyone in his city to evacuate after Hurricane Katrina grew to a monster storm.

This seems worth noting as history is repeating itself (to some degree) with Hurricane Laura slamming into Louisiana yesterday as one of most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., leaving a trail of death and destruction behind her as she makes her way northward.

Katrina, as you’ll recall, inordinately impacted low-income minority residents of New Orleans. And THIS is worth noting because a number of important incidents in Black history all occurred on this day – albeit in different years – some of them good, some very, very bad.

On Aug. 28, 1955, Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago, was abducted from his uncle’s home in Money, Mississippi, by two white men after he had supposedly whistled at a white woman; he was found brutally slain three days later.

On Aug. 28, 1963, more than 200,000 people listened as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

On Aug. 28, 2008: Then-Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president, becoming the first Black man to ever win the nomination and bid for presidency.

That seems like a lot, right? And sort of wild that it all occurred on the same date. Why? No clue. But wait, there’s more! Click here to read all about it.

For all you vino fans out there, it’s National Red Wine Day, in case you’re looking for an excuse to indulge – do we really need those anymore, though? Isn’t the pandemic enough to drive anyone to drink?

It’s also National Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, which strikes me as very sad, given that it comes on the heels of International Dog Day…maybe that was intentional?

Toady’s Google Doodle is kinda neat. It honors French writer Alexandre Dumas, whose famous works include “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” an abbreviated version of which is featured in today’s slideshow. On Aug. 28, 1844, the first installment of that novel was published in a Parisian newspaper.

Things are looking up locally in the weather department, with the forecast calling for temperatures hovering around 80 degrees and partly cloud skies. The weekend is looking like a mixed bag, with temperatures in the 70s and some chance of showers and thunderstorms on Saturday.

There’s no denying it anymore, summer is really on its way out. Bummer.

In the headlines…

President Donald Trump formally accepted his party’s nomination for a second term in a scorching address from the White House in which he sought to defend his record on the pandemic while tearing down Democrat Joe Biden – sometimes inaccurately – as a “weak” instrument of his party’s left-wing.

By the time Trump descended the South Portico steps yesterday, the goals for this week’s Republican National Convention had become clear: win back women, put coronavirus in the rear-view and convince Americans the President is not a racist.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and Trump’s personal attorney, addressed the RNC in a prime slot last night, lamenting current protests against social and racial injustice as “vicious, brutal riots.”

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior White House adviser, offered an intimate portrait of her father in her convention speech, describing him as a compassionate crusader for the everyday American.

Two White House officials violated the Hatch Act by participating in choreographed events that were aired during this week’s RNC, according to two separate ethics complaints filed by government watchdog groups.

A group of New York City Public Housing residents blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership in a video segment aired at the convention.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris lambasted Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in a speech Thursday designed to prebut his appearance at the convention hours later, saying that he “froze” and “was scared” and therefore made early missteps.

At least 19 former top Trump administration officials in total have broken publicly with their former boss in one form or another, which is unprecedented, and several have already lent their names to various Republicans-for-Biden efforts.

The old guard that led the Republican Party from 1980 until 2016 has been conspicuously absent from this year’s convention, representing the final signature on the party’s bitter divorce.

Trump called the NBA a “political organization” in response to five teams refusing to play in the playoff games in protest of police brutality.

NBA legend Michael Jordan acted as a key liaison between players and owners during talks on whether the league should resume play following a brief boycott over the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake.

The Mets and Marlins decided to join the sports world’s protests against police shootings and racial injustice by not playing their game at Citi Field last night.

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner said that the NBA players refusing to play in protest of a recent police shooting are lucky to be rich enough to be “able to take a night off from work.”

The teen vigilante who allegedly gunned down two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was hit with a slew of charges.

…Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of a single shooting incident during a night of unrest in Kenosha earlier this week that left two people dead and a third person seriously injured, authorities have said.

Controversial 2018 comments by Kenosha Sheriff David Beth have sparked renewed outrage as the city deals with the aftermath of an officer shooting Blake in the back on Sunday.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined local NAACP leaders to demand a quick investigation into the police shooting of Blake.

Jackson and Blake’s family are calling for the indictment of the officer, Rusten Sheskey, who shot Blake at point blank range.

Blake is reportedly handcuffed to his hospital bed, despite being paralyzed from the waist down after being shot seven times by police.

The defense attorney for one of the former Minneapolis police officers who was involved in the death of George Floyd has filed for a change of venue in the upcoming trial.

De Blasio said amending the city’s new chokehold ban would provide cops with clearer guidance and help address the city’s surge in shootings.

One of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the U.S., Laura barreled across Louisiana yesterday, shearing off roofs, killing at least six people and maintaining ferocious strength while carving a destructive path hundreds of miles inland.

Another 1 million American workers filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department reported. The report met economists’ expectations, and was a small decline from the prior week, but the report was still somewhat of a disappointment.

At least five states have begun paying out a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits. Others have signaled they’ll do so within days.

New York has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the U.S.

The Federal Reserve approved a major shift in how it sets interest rates by dropping its longstanding practice of pre-emptively lifting them to head off higher inflation, a move likely to leave U.S. borrowing costs very low for a long time.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 65, plans to announce his resignation today and will cite his worsening health, a ruling-party lawmaker said, ending the reign of the man who held the top job longer than anyone else.

Face masks are going to be mandatory in all public places in Paris in response to an “undeniable resurgence of the epidemic,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

The race to capture TikTok’s U.S. operations took a sharp turn yesterday, as Walmart said it is joining Microsoft’s bid for the popular video-sharing app after other deep-pocketed suitors dropped out of the running.

Kevin Mayer, the chief executive of the Chinese-owned video app TikTok, said that he was resigning after the company came under sustained pressure from the Trump administration over its ties to China.

A new bill from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that aims to address the future of Puerto Rico’s territory status is being slammed by a fellow Puerto Rican House Democrat from New York: retiring Rep. Jose Serrano.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweaked the standards for college re-closings across New York, announcing he lowered the threshold for re-closing facilities to 5 percent COVID test positivity rates or 100 cases. Previously, that threshold had been at 9 percent. National outbreaks at universities prompted the change.

Labor unions representing teachers across New York called on the state health department to mandate wearing face masks at all times indoors during the school day.

Citing state and federal aid cuts, Albany’s city school district is proposing drastic instructional changes for students in grades 6-12 in a school year that’s just weeks from starting — including the full suspension of in-person classes for almost all students in grades 7-12.

The chants of “Let Them Play!” not only echoed through the Hicksville Athletic Center, they reverberated around the virtual world as Nassau County residents held a demonstration and signed online petitions to protest the decision to postpone high school sports across the county.

New York City principals are warning of a teacher shortage as they work to comply with a new district policy their union says will require thousands more teachers during a hiring freeze.

As New York City races to reopen school buildings physically next month, it is clear that the pandemic has exacerbated the gap between the wealthy and everyone else.

The number of New York educators who are filing for retirement is on the rise as teachers and administrators plan to return to school next month amid COVID-19.

New York has begun a slow march toward the devastation officials warned about if they didn’t receive more direct federal assistance to help them through the fiscal wreckage of Covid-19, as Cuomo has quietly begun implementing 20 percent budget cuts that will trickle down to local governments across the state.

De Blasio faces one of the biggest challenges of his political career as he decides the fate of 22,000 government workers in danger of being laid off and tests the support of unions who helped him win office.

The new coronavirus is not the only illness to worry about as some schools attempt to reopen this fall. Legionella could lurk in the water supplies of school buildings, and some measures to keep people in schools safe from coronavirus may even increase risks from deadly illnesses caused by the bacteria.

Budget cuts have left some of New York City’s green spaces with unmown lawns, unemptied garbage cans and littered playgrounds – just when New Yorkers need them most.

Cuomo deployed a testing SWAT team to Western New York to address the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region. The team will open free rapid testing sites across the region in partnership with Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center, and Catholic Health. Eight new testing sites will open tomorrow.

Cuomo pushed back against the U.S. Department of Justice probe into nursing home deaths during the pandemic, saying: “They’ve asked for data of state-run public nursing homes. There are five such nursing homes in the state. That information has been released already.”

Dozens of people barred from visiting their aging parents in a state-run nursing home rallied yesterday to demand that officials grant them access to their cooped-up kin.

A not-for-profit center in Yonkers is one of the largest pediatric nursing homes in the country. Its officials and families are pleading with the state Department of Health to loosen visiting restrictions.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson is pushing Cuomo and state lawmakers to pass a measure that would let New York City borrow billions of dollars to help prevent massive layoffs of government workers during the fiscal crisis triggered by the pandemic.

De Blasio is considering extending the city’s coronavirus-induced outdoor dining program beyond its current endpoint of Oct. 31.

The State Liquor Authority is harassing bars and restaurants and hitting them with “exorbitant fines,” making it nearly impossible to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, according to nearly two dozen state lawmakers, who this week urged the agency to work with — not against– the businesses.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City’s biggest art museum, opened to visitors yesterday for the first time since the pandemic hit the city.

Visitors to the museum — one of the first major cultural institutions in Manhattan to reopen after restrictions were lifted this week — cheered the chance to feel normal again.

Jujamcyn Theaters, the operator of five Broadway houses, has sued its insurers for denying it millions of dollars that the theater company says it deserves as payment for the losses suffered during the monthslong coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

New York City’s transportation chief defended the city’s decision to allow embattled scooter-rental service Revel back on Big Apple streets, while promising unspecified new regulations sometime in the future.

A loud rumbling sound across New York City that many assumed was a very long thunder as storms battered the tri-state area turned out to actually be a fireworks show held for the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards.

The Albany County Law Committee has voted 7-2 to ban the sale and use of “sparkling devices” previously excluded from a 2014 state-wide ban. The definition of “sparkling devices” includes ground-based fireworks such as cylindrical or cone fountains and wooden sparkler/dipped sticks.

A court decision blocking the city’s controversial plan to add three high-rises to the Two Bridges project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side was overturned by an appeals court.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former top Cuomo administration aide Joe Percoco are both doing time on corruption charges at Otisville federal prison.

The New York State Board of Elections has come forward with evidence the re-election campaign of Lovely Warren violated campaign finance laws and alleges Rochester’s mayor was directly involved.

PSEG Long Island, already under fire for its widely criticized response to Tropical Storm Isaias, said it was “making preparations” for weekend storms, but officials voiced skepticism about those efforts.

Suffolk County is preparing for an endless summer amid signs that the coronavirus crisis and surging crime in the Big Apple will lead wealthy vacationers and weekenders to stay put after Labor Day.

Service providers across New York for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities could be forced to cut or rollback programs and lay off staff as expenses rise from the COVID-19 pandemic and policy changes at the state and national level are resulting in budget cuts.

Unemployed workers stood outside the darkened Rivers Casino in a torrential rain yesterday hoping to exert some pressure on Cuomo to allow the gaming facilities to reopen, or at least offer some clear guidance as to when that might happen.

The Capital District Transportation Authority saw ridership on its buses rebound in July after a sharp pandemic-driven decline earlier in the year. July’s ridership was just 13 percent year-earlier levels, board members were told.

A virtual meeting on Wednesday night with parents and administrators at the Geyser Road Elementary School in Saratoga Springs ended abruptly after a hacker disrupted the meeting with pornographic and Nazi images.

Town Supervisor David VanLuven publicly apologized at a meeting Wednesday night after he used an expletive to describe a local activist during a town board meeting.

The Best Buy at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland has closed, though the company has not explained why.

Ritz cracker-flavored ice cream will soon be a thing.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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