Rise and Shine: Aug. 3, 2020

Good Monday morning, CivMixers. Welcome to the first workweek in August. AUGUST!!! How did we get here?

For our friends to the north….today is the 125th Natal Day in the Halifax region. This holiday began in 1895 as a way to celebrate Nova Scotia’s history. “Natal,” by the way, comes from the Latin word for “birth.”

Usually, this is a long weekend that is marked by outdoor festivities like fireworks and parades. But due to the pandemic, all that has been called off. There are, however, some online performances you can enjoy – even if you’re not Canadian.

It’s also National White Wine Day and National Watermelon Day, which sounds like a winning combination to me…though vodka is more traditional when one thinks of watermelon infusions.

On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus sets sail on his first voyage with three ships – Santa María, Pinta and Niña – from Palos de la Frontera, Spain en route to the Indies. (We all know how that turned out for him).

Also on this day in 1923, baseball games were cancelled in the U.S. following the death of President Warren G. Harding, who, by the way was such an avid baseball fan that he even owned a minor league team.

The cancellation part seems worth noting, given the mess that is MLB these days – again, thank you, COVID-19. (Apparently, there’s some confusion as to whether the season should continue as a result of several viral outbreaks among various teams).

And one more thing: Today’s Google Doodle…they’ve been pretty neat of late…honors Vicki Draves, the first Asian American woman to win an Olympic medal.

On this day during the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Draves won gold medals for both 10-meter platform and 3-meter springboard diving, making her the first woman to win gold in both diving events and the first Asian American woman to win any Olympic medal – ever.

We’ll have intervals of clouds and sunshine today, and temperatures in the mid-80s. A tornado watch was issued yesterday in the tri-state area as a round of severe weather was set to hit — even before Tropical Storm Isaias is expected to unleash wild weather on New York next week.

And now, the news…

Deutsche Bank launched an internal investigation into the longtime personal banker for President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over a 2013 real estate transaction between the banker and a company part-owned by Kushner.

Trump has installed retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, a nominee for a top Pentagon job in a senior Department of Defense post, on a temporary basis after lawmakers abruptly canceled his confirmation hearing last week amid lingering questions about his fitness for the role.

Familiar fault lines continue to separate the White House and congressional Democrats on the next coronavirus stimulus package a day after an extended meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and administration officials including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Democrats and Republicans remained at odds in weekend negotiations on a new coronavirus economic relief package, including aid to replace the federal $600-a-week boost to unemployment benefits that expired Friday.

Meadows expressed little confidence that a deal will be reached soon on a fourth coronavirus stimulus package, and continued to push for Democrats to agree to a stand-alone measure that would restore the weekly federal jobless benefits, which expired on Friday.

Democrats hope the next coronavirus relief bill will remove the Trump administration’s cap on state and local tax deductions, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, but he acknowledged they face an uphill battle because of fierce opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump has no intention of “peacefully” transferring power if he loses the November election, according to House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

Meadows said the November presidential election would go ahead as planned, just days after Trump floated a delay over concerns about voter fraud.

The vote to renominate Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the press present, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention said, citing the coronavirus. However, a RNC official contradicted that assessment yesterday, emphasizing that no final decisions have been made.

Microsoft said it is moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after speaking with Trump, who has threatened to ban the popular video app in the U.S.

Trump publicly criticized the nation’s top infectious disease expert, claiming that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s explanation of why coronavirus cases have been surging in the United States was “Wrong!”

Deborah Birx, the physician overseeing the White House coronavirus response, warned that the United States had entered a “new phase” of the pandemic and urged people to take extreme health precautions as infections and deaths rise sharply nationwide.

Critically ill COVID-19 patients recovered rapidly from respiratory failure after three days of treatment with RLF-100, a therapy granted fast-track designation in the United States, two drug companies said.

The race for a vaccine — in the middle of a presidential campaign — is now testing the system set up to ensure safe and effective drugs to a degree never before seen.

Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision.

The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged families, and it’s difficult to figure out exactly how many children have lost a caregiver or have been orphaned, but experts say the scale of the losses is likely staggering.

A state district judge has barred the leader of the New Mexico group “Cowboys for Trump” from seeing his son over social media posts and for refusing to abide by COVID-19 mask requirements.

Lord & Taylor, the oldest department store chain in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy yesterday, joining a growing list of businesses to announce bankruptcy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The owner of Men’s Wearhouse and JoS. A. Bank, which once dominated the market for affordable men’s suits, also filed for bankruptcy protection late yesterday, as demand plummeted for its corporate clothing with the coronavirus pandemic keeping America’s office workers at home.

Business executives say they are getting a better grip on what a world transformed by the coronavirus looks like, giving them more confidence to lay out strategies that account for the new reality.

COVID-19 cases and fatalities are continuing to drop in New York, but the state is remaining vigilant to keep numbers down – particularly as schools prepare to reopen in the fall.

New York City submitted an “outline,” not a plan, to reopen its public schools in the fall, Jim Malatras, a top advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said as the governor reiterated that parents and teachers will not go into school buildings without a detailed plan.

Local districts were required to submit their reopening plans to the state Friday, and initial decisions on the plans were expected from New York officials this week. But Cuomo stressed that there needs to be a “full conversation” that answers parents’ questions about reopening safely.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew has bashed the plan as “not enough to protect students and staff,” but Cuomo downplayed the possibility of a strike, saying: “I don’t know that it would have to come down to a strike, but if the union and the teachers aren’t comfortable, then they’re not going to show up.”

Writing in the New York Times, Cuomo said other states should look to his state for “important lessons on how to fix the testing mess.”

Over six million diagnostic tests for COVID-19 have been completed in New York, Cuomo announced, as he lamented that some establishments — including two in Suffolk County — continued to flout safety protocols.

With unprecedented executive powers augmenting his usual top-down management style, Cuomo’s administration toiled for months to bring down New York’s infection rate. But the same tactics would unnecessarily complicate the state’s reopening processes and, some say, worsen the spread among New York’s most vulnerable.

Cuomo said that decisions about bringing back students to New York college campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic will be up to each school’s individual leadership, adding: “It’s going to be a university by university decision.”

Colleges face challenges unlike any other American institution — containing the coronavirus among a young, impulsive population that not only studies together, but lives together, parties together, and, if decades of history are any guide, sleeps together. It will be a hugely complex and expensive endeavor.

Shaker High School in Colonie will be closed today after an employee of the Extended School Year program tested positive for COVID-19.

As Long Island parents look toward the start of school — and await final plans from their districts and the state this week — they have different views on whether to send their children back into the brick-and-mortar world of education.

As the coronavirus reshapes education, 131 New York charter schools and management companies received Paycheck Protection Program loans this spring and summer, collecting a total of at least $112.1 to $260.85 million in federal support unavailable to traditional public schools.

A series of recent teen parties celebrating high school graduations have caused a “mini surge” of COVID-19 cases in Greenwich, Connecticut, and prompted state officials to issue a fresh round of warnings to families.

An illicit rave took place under the Kosciuszko Bridge in Brooklyn Saturday night, as bars and clubs remain on lockdown from the coronavirus.

New York City’s glamorous party venues have been sitting dormant for months, unable to make money. Industry sources now say they don’t see an out until 2021 at the earliest — raising questions about whether the facilities will even survive.

The Liberty Belle, a party boat with four bars and three outdoor decks, was dinged for violating distancing rules, and its owners were accused of running an unlicensed bar, the authorities said.

The State Liquor Authority has suspended Nello’s liquor license, adding the high-profile restaurant to a list of dozens of establishments that have been penalized as the state agency mounts a crackdown on social-distancing violations.

New studies in Europe and Asia suggest that riding public transportation is not a major source of transmission for the coronavirus. The NYC subway system might be safer than you think.

Wealthy New Yorkers who fled the city during the coronavirus crisis “don’t want to come back” and may be further deterred by talk of rising taxes, Partnership for NYC President Kathryn Wylde said.

Cuomo says he opposes raising taxes on the wealthy to help the state weather the coronavirus economic crisis, but it is clear that federal aid alone won’t solve the state’s fiscal woes.

The Big Apple’s alarming surge in gun crime continued early yesterday, with seven more shootings and 10 victims — including two people hit during a party in East New York — capping a week that averaged a murder a day.

There have been more shootings so far this year in New York City than in all of 2019.

A sharp rise in homicides this year is hitting large U.S. cities across the country, signaling a new public-safety risk unleashed during the coronavirus pandemic, and amid recession and a national backlash against police tactics.

Vehicles have crashed into temporary outdoor dining areas on New York City streets at least four times since the program that allows restaurants to serve meals amid the coronavirus pandemic began roughly six weeks ago.

Fewer than 20 percent of New York’s nursing homes have reopened to visitors amid the coronavirus — and now family members desperate to see their loved ones again are calling for the state to relax the requirements.

The state Legislature will begin the first of two public hearings today on the thousands of COVID-related deaths that occurred in state-regulated nursing homes.

New York extended the application period for its COVID Rent Relief Program from July 30 to Aug. 6, the state announced.

Five racetracks, including the Genesee Speedway in Batavia, have filed a joint lawsuit against the governor and state Attorney General Letitia James over being unable to reopen due to the pandemic.

There could be chaos in New York during the November general election if the logistical problems caused by widespread mail-in voting aren’t addressed quickly.

Nearly six weeks later, two congressional primary races remain undecided, and officials are trading blame over the mishandling of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.

The widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers says the Brooklyn college named in his honor has become a national “embarrassment” in need of new leadership.

Billionaire John Catsimatidis says he is prepared to spend $100 million to win the NYC mayor’s race in 2021 if he decides to seek the GOP nomination. He made the promise during a Zoom meeting last week with the five Republican borough chairs, including his own daughter Andrea, the Manhattan party boss.

In the City of Albany, marijuana arrests continue to fall almost entirely on Black residents.

A Back the Blue rally at the state Capitol Saturday quickly turned physical when a scuffle broke out after Black Lives Matter protestors arrived, stepping on and dragging the “thin blue line” flag.

Coccadotts Cake Shop in Colonie appears to have shut down its Facebook and Instagram pages after an online storm erupted following the posting of a photo last week of a custom cake that resembles a “Make America Great Again” hat.

Law enforcement officials searched the Hudson River yesterday for a 77-year-old male swimmer who has gone missing.

An online auction of personal items that belonged to Marylou Whitney brought in $400,000 – double what the philanthropist’s widower, John Hendrickson, expected.

The judge presiding over the criminal case against a British socialite charged with recruiting teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse said that her attorneys are not permitted to publicly identify accusers even if they’ve spoken in a public forum.

A SpaceX capsule carrying two U.S. astronauts splashed down safely off the Florida coast yesterday, skirting a tropical storm, to cap a notable two-month mission intended to harness private enterprise in revitalizing America’s human space ambitions.

New York has been added to the list of states affected by a widespread outbreak of salmonella.

The federal Department of Agriculture has identified some of the species of the mysterious seeds many Americans are receiving in the mail from China. Fourteen of the species are herbs and other plants like hibiscus and mint.

RIP Wilford Brimley, the longtime character actor who appeared in such hit films as “Cocoon,” “The Firm,” “The Natural” and “The China Syndrome” but is best known as the pitch man for Quaker Oats food products, who has died at the age of 85.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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