Today was going well. I got a new desk chair and am super excited about it. Then I realized I got a new desk chair and was REALLY excited about it, and then I realized exactly how boring my life must be to be this excited about it.
It is an excellent chair, though. Supportive, comfortable, pretty much everything you could possible want, all in one chair.
Stop judging me. I will attempt to get out more.
Seriously though – really good chair. Perfect even.
Anyway. Maybe it is okay that I get this excited over a chair, judging on the fact that 2020 has been the type of year that makes us happy for the little things. I mean, there was the first recorded mauling of a hunter by a grizzly bear in the largest U.S. national park, Wrangell-St. Elias. In its 40-year history, such an incident has never happened before. It happened this past Sunday, because 2020.
ANNNND if 2020 wasn’t enough for you, it gives us its latest entry: Zombie Storms – Welcome back to life, Tropical Storm Paulette.
I understood (and understand) that there is nothing I can do with a global pandemic. I follow the guidelines. I wear my mask and wash my hands. I can work with it.
I was OK with murder hornets. I figured that if I simply stay in upstate, I will never encounter flying snakes. I am less OK with zombie storms, but upon researching them, I see that though rare they have indeed happened before – less than a handful of times before but, OK.
If 2020 throws the Clownpocalypse at us, I am out. Just letting you know now. When the painted faces and the big shoes come out, I am done.
Onto our 5 Things for the day.
1) The Louisville, KY grand jury that was empaneled to decide the fate of three police officers who fired into Breonna Taylor’s apartment on March 13, killing the 26-year old EMT in the fire between the officers and Taylor’s boyfriend announced their decision today. Only one of the three officers was charged: Brett Hankison, who was already fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department back in June.
Former Detective Hankison was fired for blindly firing 10 shots that night with a blatant disregard for his surroundings and with no regard for the lives around him. Now, the grand jury has charged him on three first-degree charges of wanton endangerment. The other two officers, Det. Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly were not indicted.
Louisville and the country, in general, have reacted with a mixture of jaded astonishment, resignation, and anger. Protestors took to the streets in Louisville, most flocking to what is now known as “Breonna’s Park” – the Jefferson Square Park.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he is well aware that many are not happy with this turn of events, but he called for peace in the face of what he thinks has been a just procedure, so far. He was appointed the special prosecutor in Taylor’s case and said that he and the grand jury members had to put personal feelings aside to do their jobs.
Cameron reminded people that any justice sought out by those feeling angry or betrayed is not, in fact, justice, but vengeance. He also said activists, celebrities, and influencers on social media do not understand the facts of the case and are speaking about the information they do not fully comprehend.
Cameron was named on President Donald Trump’s shortlist of replacements for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
2) Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf defended his department at his confirmation hearing held by the Governmental Affairs Committee, and insisted that former DHS Intelligence Chief Brian Murphy’s “whistleblower” accusations are entirely untrue.
In his complaint, Murphy outlined a grim view of a highly politicized DHS under the Trump administration, with intelligence being censored, or even manipulated. His accusations range from abuse of power to what could be illegal acts by senior members of the administration and the intelligence dept.
If Wolf manages to get confirmed, he will be the first DHS secretary in over a year. Wolf has been a dedicated and loyal Trump supporter, especially when it comes to immigration issues. As detention centers face ever-increasing scrutiny and allegations, Wolf continues to defend the facilities.
Both Wolf and his acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, were found to have been illegally appointed to their current positions by the Government Accountability Office. Wolf said the GAO’s logic was flawed and its decision non-binding. The DHS has its own Office of the Inspector General, and that office has chosen not to act on any non-binding decisions.
Wolf himself has been the center of controversy recently, as he is the one who decided to send federal agents into Oregon during protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder – against the Oregon governor’s wishes. Though the agents were seen as large, imposing forces that caused more issues than anything else, Wolf has continued to defend the decision.
3) New York County State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled today that Eric Trump has to sit, under oath, for the interview that will serve as part of state Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the Trump Organization before Nov. 3 election.
Trump had requested to delay the interview until after the voting was over.
Justice Engoron also declared that the documents requested by James need to be turned over by the Trump organization. Trump had issued the delay request, citing that he was not available for the interview until after the election. However, Engoron said he did not see where the election has any bearing on the timetable for the investigation and consultation.
James is currently investigating whether Trump Organization committed fraud by adjusting the president’s assets. The investigation started after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen stated that Trump had inflated his value when applying for loans, and vice versa when doing his taxes. Eric Trump would have been involved in any of these transactions due to his position as executive VP of the Trump Organization, according to the AG.
The Trump Organization has denied any alleged wrongdoing.
4) As we get further into the school year here in the Capital District, more districts report new COVID cases. Yesterday, Shenendehowa announced a second student had tested positive, and today, Niskayuna announced its first positive test.
Niskayuna officials announced that the Schenectady County Public Health department had alerted them that there was a positive case in the Rosendale Elementary School community. Still, administrators did not confirm if it was a student or faculty member. They did say that they are working with the Schenectady Public Health Dept. to trace the contact the person had.
The health department will then contact anyone with whom the positive person had contact. Across the region, school leaders are now considering what to do when they get cases at their school and no longer asking if they will. There were positive cases from the day schools opened, with Burnt Hills, Mohonasen, Guilderland, and North Colonie all reporting cases before Niskayuna and Shen. This is the second one in as many weeks reported at the largest school district in the region.
As we push forward into this uncertain world of COVID and education, school officials and health experts advise parents to be vigilant, to keep kids who are sick home, and to continue with all public health guidelines and protocols to protect against the spread.
5) There was a two-car accident today on Route 9, southbound, in Ballston Lake outside of the Stewarts. It occurred around 1:19 PM. The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the driver of a 2020 Toyota RAV 4 hit a 2003 Oldsmobile Aero as it turned left onto Rte. 9.
The RAV driver, 24, was a Ballston Spa man, was uninjured. A 52-year-old Ballston Lake man drove the Aero, and he was transferred to Albany Med with a leg injury and possible internal injuries.
The Saratoga Sheriff’s Collision Reconstruction Unit is currently investigating the crash, and no further information is now available. The identification of the drivers is being held until notification of next of kin is completed.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.