Rise and Shine: Aug. 6, 2020

Today is Thursday, CivMixers, which is one day away from Friday, which is glorious.

It was a big day in history. On this day in 1965, for example, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

This landmark legislation prohibited racial discrimination in voting. Sadly, as we know all too well, there are still a lot of roadblocks when it comes to voting access – especially at the moment, with the president waging an all-out assault on mail-in voting at a time when in-person voting feels neither safe nor wise as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Here in New York, lawmakers and the governor have taken steps to improve voting access and preserve voters’ rights. But despite their best efforts, there were widespread problems with the recent primaries, with significant delays in declaring the winner in several close congressional contests.

The primary mess raised concerns about how the November election is going to go, though the U.S. Postal Service insists it’s up to the task.

This is a really important presidential election – I hesitate to say the most important in our lifetimes, because it seems like that has been said a lot in recent years. But there’s an enormous amount at stake. And it’s incredibly important that everyone not only exercise their right to vote, but also feel assured that when they do, that vote is going to be counted fairly and accurately and in a timely fashion.

Get with it, America.

It is the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima. On this day in 1945, during World War II, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” on the Japanese city, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths. Three days later, the U.S. exploded another nuclear device over Nagasaki, and five days after that, Imperial Japan surrendered.

The war was over, but at what cost? This has been debated ever since, and probably will be for the rest of time.

The extent of damage humans can do to one another, not to mention the planet, is downright unfathomable and deeply disturbing. You know what might make you feel better?

A root beer float.

Yup. It’s National Root Beer Float Day. This delicious combination of soda and vanilla ice cream was the brainchild of Frank J. Wisner, owner of Colorado’s Cripple Creek Brewing. He’s credited with creating the first root beer float back in 1893. Birch beer is an acceptable substitution for root beer, and I’m sorry, but Coca Cola is just not. No.

If you can get yourself to an A&W Restaurant, which is known for its root beer floats, all the better. And YES, they do still exist…in fact, according to the company’s handy locator map, there’s one in Fishkill, which isn’t too far away from Albany. It may, in fact, be the last remaining A&W in New York? Could that be true? ROAD TRIP! Before it gets away!

We’re in for partly cloud skies and temperatures just kissing 80 degrees today.

In the headlines…

The White House threatened to act on its own to provide coronavirus relief yesterday after another day of talks with Democrats yielded no agreement.

Negotiations opened a new chapter as White House and congressional leaders met with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to discuss emergency funding needs and issues hampering the performance of the U.S. Post Office, which has seen mail delivery delays that have led to fears about mail-in ballots for the election in November.

Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads on a host of issues, from federal unemployment benefits to blue-state tax cuts, while Republicans are further fractured within their caucus.

Democrats are examining legislative options to force the U.S. Census Bureau to reverse its decision to end all counting efforts in September, a month earlier than planned.

As the deadline to complete the 2020 census rapidly approaches, and with billions of federal dollars at stake, elected officials and immigration advocates are concerned about turnout from historically undercounted populations — particularly undocumented immigrants.

Census counters start their door-to-door campaign for the 2020 Census today in Albany County, the first wave of a furious push that will build across the region next week.

Trump raised $165 million in July for his campaign and shared committees with the Republican National Committee, outpacing Joe Biden, who raised $140 million last month as a record-setting pace of money continued to flood into the presidential campaign.

Whatever was left of an in-person 2020 Democratic National Convention evaporated as organizers announced Biden won’t travel to Milwaukee to give his presidential acceptance speech. Neither will any of the other speakers who will address the convention Aug. 17-20.

American University Professor Allan Lichtman, the historian who has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1984 – including Trump’s win in 2016 – has announced his pick for 2020: Biden.

Facebook and Twitter took action against Trump and his campaign last night over a video posted in which he falsely claimed that children are “almost immune” to the coronavirus.

In the removed video, Trump can be heard in a phone interview saying schools should open. He goes on to say: “If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” and that they have stronger immune systems.

The video clip – a portion of an interview aired on Fox News – attracted roughly 450,000 views on Facebook before it was taken down, according to CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics company. It also drew thousands of comments and was reshared nearly 2,000 times.

About 245,000 youth from birth to 17 have tested positive, according to the latest data from the CDC. Hundreds have transmitted the virus at summer camps and youth programs that have welcomed kids, often with the kinds of hygiene, masking and physical distancing rules proposed by many schools.

In a letter to Facebook executives, the attorneys general for California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and other states called on the social-media platform to offer live, real-time assistance so users can report intimidation and harassment.

Trump praised Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s handling of the pandemic — even as the virus tears through the state at an alarming rate.

Viral videos of packed partying underway at waterfront clubs in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks led to a spike in tourism amid the coronavirus crisis — but not in new cases, according to a local mayor.

A massive 10-day motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota begins tomorrow and is expected to draw up to 250,000 tourists, pitting local businesses who rely on the event to stay afloat against citizens concerned about a coronavirus outbreak.

After Trump said that seeing professional athletes kneel during the national anthem causes him to “turn off the game,” Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said the NBA won’t miss him.

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he and his family have required continued security in the face of harassment and death threats from people angry over his guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.

Drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines in the early part of next year, Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases official, said, offering a more conservative view of the ramp up than some Trump administration officials.

New details are emerging about how much drugmakers are charging for coronavirus vaccines, with prices spanning from several dollars a dose to more than $70 for a regimen.

Health officials are warning against drinking hand sanitizer — after four poisoning deaths were reported in the American southwest.

An accident was the likely cause of the explosion in Beirut, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, contradicting a statement made by Trump on Tuesday that the blast that killed at least 135 people, wounded 5,000 and leveled a large portion of the city was an apparent attack.

A Florida-based cruise line has been hit with a class-action lawsuit by employees who say they were held “against their will” and “forced” to sign a document that allowed the company to not pay them while they were kept on board for months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York prosecutors who are seeking Trump’s tax records have also subpoenaed his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, a sign that their criminal investigation into the president’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known.

The New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit over whether the state has the authority to borrow $9.9 billion to cover budget shortfalls fueled by the coronavirus shutdown.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially assumed leadership of the National Governors Association during a meeting held virtually because of the pandemic. The position has gained greater significance and visibility this year as governors shoulder primary responsibility for the pandemic response and recovery efforts.

Cuomo said his focus as chairman will be on recovering from COVID-19, which has killed over 150,000 Americans, blown multi-million and multi-billion dollar holes in state and local government budgets, and left millions of people unemployed.

Cuomo declared a state of emergency in multiple downstate counties in the wake of Isaias.

Public works and utilities crews began restoring power to millions of households while Cuomo ordered an investigation into the state’s utilities, a day after Tropical Storm Isaias downed trees and power lines throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

State and local officials pounced on PSEG Long Island, demanding state probes into the utility’s communication failures the day before when Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power to more than a third of its customers.

Politicians and residents said the utility was unprepared, was slow to restore power and failed to communicate with frustrated customers.

Isaias was the earliest ever for the season’s ninth “named” storm, or potential hurricane or tropical storm, to develop over the Atlantic. Normally the ninth such storm doesn’t appear until October, near the end of the June-to-November hurricane season.

Cuomo has been begging rich people to return to New York City from their second-home retreats so they can pay taxes to help offset the state’s growing coronavirus-related revenue shortfall.

Despite a significant drop in revenue collections, Cuomo said if local lawmakers were forced to increase taxes on millionaires, it would lead to “a bad place.”

Thousands of families are at risk of being kicked out of their homes in the coming weeks because an order from Cuomo expired last night.

Tenants missing rent payments during the pandemic are still protected if they can demonstrate financial hardship in court.

Cuomo’s administration is refusing to give specific guidelines for when indoor dining can resume in New York City, leaving industry representatives and business owners frustrated by the lack of response.

Black-owned businesses in New York State closed at nearly three times the rate of white-owned businesses as the state instituted a 3½-month shutdown of nonessential activity to slow the coronavirus’ spread, according to a new report.

At all levels of education, Black residents earn less than their white counterparts, according to an analysis released by New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

The governor and his own Health Department are at odds over how many New Yorkers have died from the coronavirus.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City would start implementing checkpoints across the five boroughs to help enforce Cuomo’s quarantine order for travelers from viral hotspots, citing the ongoing national COVID threat.

The authorities will not be stopping every car. They will likely not be at every crossing on any given day. The Police Department won’t even be involved.

“We’re not looking to target out-of-state residents,” said the city’s sheriff, Joseph Fucito, whose agency will operate the checkpoints. “In fact what we’re looking to do is educate people who’ve spent time in Covid-19 hot spots regardless of their residence.”

Out-of-state travelers could face up to $10,000 in fines if they break New York City’s two-week quarantine rule and checkpoints will be set up at entry points into the city.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was left in the dark on de Blasio’s plan to set up NYC checkpoints for coronavirus at the city’s bridges and tunnels — despite policing the crossings.

U.S. boat tour operators and recreational boaters are being warned by Canadian customs officials they’ll be fined if they stray into the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River where it separates New York and Quebec.

With about a month to go before New York City schools are scheduled to reopen, the city is confronting a torrent of logistical issues and political problems that could upend de Blasio’s ambition to make New York one of the few major districts in the country to bring students back into classrooms this fall.

As public school districts move forward with their reopening plans, New York’s teachers unions are demanding that schools err on the side of caution in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.

The unions said a single COVID-19 case in a school should trigger its immediate closure for 14 days as they listed demands for reopening this fall. The final decision rests with Cuomo, who has pledged to make an overarching determination on reopenings this week.

Inadequate supplies, infrastructure and funding are hampering efforts to safely reopen schools or resume remote learning this fall amid the threat of the coronavirus, New York State health and education officials said.

New York is cracking down on health care providers who may be charging patient fees for personal protective equipment and other charges related to increased costs from the coronavirus.

The mail-in ballots of more than 84,000 New York City Democrats who sought to vote in the presidential primary were disqualified, according to new figures released by the Board of Elections.

Manhattan Sen. Liz Krueger, Senate Finance Committee chair, revealed the embattled city Board of Elections blew off state regulators seeking reforms as she tore into the agency over the recent string of voting fiascos that left thousands uncertain if their ballots were tallied.

Faced with financial pressures from the coronavirus pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is reducing its staff by 353, museum officials said. The reduction will come through a combination of voluntary retirements, furloughs and the elimination of some positions.

The Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower has been defaced yet again — just days after it was cleaned from a previous act of vandalism.

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau issues “fraudulent,” warrant-less subpoenas to investigate rank-and-file cops and to prevent leaks to the media, a federal lawsuit filed yesterday claims.

The NYPD has ordered cops to appear for misconduct hearings via video — after weeks of fighting between the unions and the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board police watchdog, The Post has learned.

City police drove to off-duty Officer Sean T. McKown’s home in Cohoes on June 6 after he called 911 to report a supposed gunfight with Black male youths — unaware the allegedly intoxicated officer was calling from the Adirondacks.

The approximately 100 employees at Capital District Off Track Betting who were laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but later rehired won’t lose their accrued sick-leave benefits, as initially feared.

State Police were searching Lake George yesterday evening after a report that a swimmer is missing.

Since July 1, the Kesselring Naval Nuclear Laboratory has seen 47 positive cases of COVID-19 among its 2,000 employees.

The explosion of a food processor being tested in Schenectady for the manufacturing of guacamole killed well-known businessman and former Rensselaer mayor, Joseph Kapp, and left two others injured yesterday morning, officials said.

Defund the Police will be a topic of discussion in tonight’s City Council meeting in Troy. Over a hundred letters have been submitted to the council to read about the topic.

Albany is working on a new program, called the Pride in Albany County Community Beautification Corps, that would give teens part-time jobs consisting of cleaning up local parks.

A survey by the home improvement site Porch.com found that three out of four homeowners took on some type of home improvement project since the pandemic began.

Given relatively high city rents and the growing realities of a remote workforce that are becoming ubiquitous as the pandemic persists, purchasing a “cheap old house” in a small town or rural area is becoming an increasingly alluring pathway for some millennials.

RIP Pete Hamill, a streetwise son of Brooklyn who turned a gift for storytelling, a fascination with characters and a romance with tabloid newspapers into a storied career as a New York journalist, novelist and essayist for more than a half century. He died yesterday in the borough of his birth at the age of 85.

RIP Paul A. Richter, a retired State Police trooper who turned being nearly killed by armed robbers in the Adirondacks into a life dedicated to supporting those with spinal cord injuries. He died Saturday at the age of 84 after being cared for at St. Peter’s Community Hospice Inn.

The racist and sexist undertones of the term “master bedroom” have led New York’s real estate community and others to rethink outdated industry jargon.

State officials confirmed that the invasive emerald ash borer has infested some trees in the Warren County town of Chester.

For the first time in its nearly 170-year history, the New York Times made more money from digital products than it did from its print newspaper during a three-month quarterly earnings period, the paper announced.

The running of 151st Runhappy Travers Stakes is this Saturday. NYRA announced post positions, and Tiz the Law is No. 6.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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