Rise and Shine: Sept. 16, 2020

Wow, it’s Wednesday, CivMixers. Happy Mexican Independence Day!

This day celebrates Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810, and is generally commemorated by a reenactment of a historic moment from the revolution’s leader as well as an array of performances – from fireworks to rodeos to dance routines.

(Sometimes, this is confused here in the U.S. with Cinco de Mayo, which is something altogether different and is NOT actually a national holiday in Mexico; we can likely thank our national beverage companies – read, beer, mostly – for elevating the holiday to the level it enjoys here).

The date marks the moment when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest known as Father Hidalgo, made the first cry for independence.

He delivered a moving speech (known as the “Cry of Dolores” or “El Grito de Dolores”) in the Mexican town of Dolores, and then took up the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe – a Roman Catholic image of the Virgin Mary as she appears to Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican believer who was later sainted by the church – and got a ragtag band of people, and apparently also some livestock, to follow him into battle.

Things didn’t go so well. Father Hidalgo ended up defrocked during the Spanish Inquisition, and was later beheaded by the civil government as punishment for revolting. His head was displayed in Guanajuato, where he and his army were charged with causing a massacre.

But the struggle he had launched continued in his absence, and it was eventually successful – 11 years later. Father Hidalgo is remembered for getting the ball rolling.

Traditionally, the evening of Sept. 15, the Mexican president recreates “El Grito” in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people from the balcony of the National Palace. After each line, the audience yells “Viva!”, and the whole thing culminates with the president ringing a bell in tribute to Hidalgo.

Foods for Mexican Independence Day include pozole, menudo (a beef stew known as a hangover cure), birria de borrego (spiced lamb) and queso fundido. Tequila is the beverage of choice.

Of course, this year’s celebrations have been impacted by the pandemic. In Chicago, for example, there was a massive car parade.

Likely not a coincidence, it’s also National Guacamole Day, and for those of you out there who love the green stuff, there are a number of restaurants offering deals on it. (Please, no peas).

On this day in 1920, a bomb exploded in front of Wall Street’s J. P. Morgan building and killed 38 people. The incident was never solved. The bombing became one of the FBI’s earliest terrorism cases, and, as we know now, sadly, it was not the last to involve the city of New York.

The attack would remain the deadliest terrorist incident on U.S. soil until the Oklahoma City bombing 75 years later.

Another sad milestone: Today is the seventh anniversary of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, when a Navy reservist killed at least 12 people in a mass shooting at a secure military facility that led the authorities to lock down part of the nation’s capital — even after the gunman was killed — in a hunt for two other armed men spotted by video cameras.

Wether-wise, we are in for another lovely day, with temperatures in the low 70s and a lot of sun.

In the headlines…

President Donald Trump denied during a televised town hall yesterday that he had played down the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year, although there is an audio recording of him stating he did just that.

“Well I didn’t downplay it, I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action,” Trump said. “My action was very strong.”

The president claimed that “herd mentality” could make the coronavirus “disappear” with or without a vaccine.

Trump insisted that “we’re rounding the corner” of the crisis and cast doubt on the value of wearing masks, citing the wisdom of restaurant waiters over the counsel of his own medical advisers.

Trump also hit Mayor Bill de Blasio over New York City’s skyrocketing shootings and called on police to “be allowed to do their jobs” during the ABC News event.

A group of middle-of-the-road lawmakers rolled out a $1.5 trillion compromise plan that they hope will break the partisan logjam on Capitol Hill over how much money to spend on shoring up the U.S. economy amid continued financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both New York Democrats, jointly demanded that the feds do more to help families of coronavirus victims pay for funeral costs.

Scientific American has endorsed former VP Joe Biden for president, the first time the venerable science magazine has backed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history.

…the magazine’s editors said they were motivated to endorse Biden – a decision they did not make lightly – after seeing how science has been ignored and politicized by Trump and his administration.

After Trump reimposed a 10 percent aluminum tariff on Canada and Canada was about to retaliate with a dollar-for-dollar countermeasure, the two countries talked, and yesterday came to a better agreement. Had the deal not been reached, New York would have been the most impacted state in the U.S.

A top U.S. commander said an intelligence review has not turned up corroborating evidence of a Russian effort to bribe the Taliban to kill American soldiers, but the U.S. continues to hunt for information on the matter.

Jim Cramer, a CNBC host, took to Twitter to defend himself after facing backlash for referring to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as “Crazy Nancy,” a derisive nickname Trump has frequently used.

Demonstrators gathered in Manhattan to protest a federal appeals court ruling saying the Trump administration has the discretion to deport immigrants from Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador by terminating the humanitarian “Temporary Protected Status” that let them stay in the United States for years, if not decades.

China’s ByteDance Ltd. would retain a majority ownership stake in its TikTok app unit as part of a proposal being reviewed by national-security regulators, with an eye toward settling the high-profile deal by a deadline Sunday, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The Federal Trade Commission is gearing up to file a possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook by year-end, according to people familiar with the matter, in a case that would challenge the company’s dominant position in social media.

The delivery company FedEx posted the highest quarterly revenue in its history as the coronavirus pandemic spurred residential-shipment levels normally seen during the holiday season.

A newly strengthened Hurricane Sally pummeled the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama with sideways rain, beach-covering storm surges, strong winds and power outages early today, moving toward shore at an agonizingly slow pace that promised a drawn out drenching and possible record floods.

Residents and officials have begun surveying the vast destruction in Oregon’s small towns while gusty winds and low humidity continue to propel wildfires that have burned millions of acres and displaced thousands of people across the Western U.S.

Intense smoke from historic wildfires that is filling the lungs of millions of Westerners is clouding skies across the nation.

West Coast residents from San Francisco to Seattle and beyond have for days suffered from the smoke, which has sent air-quality readings soaring to hazardous levels, closed some schools and led officials to shut parks and beaches while pleading for people to stay indoors.

Nearly three times as many minority children have died from coronavirus in the U.S. compared to white children, according to a Centers for Disease Control report. The report showed that while kids below age 21 were less likely to die from COVID-19, the underlying data was similar to that from adults.

An average of 120 patients a day became infected with the new coronavirus inside U.S. hospitals as the pandemic ebbed from its spring peak and rebounded into the summer, according to previously unpublished federal data.

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, announced a $12 million settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, the black EMT fatally shot by cops during a botched raid on her home.

In addition to the largest settlement ever paid by Louisville police, the deal includes changes in the approval process and execution of search warrants, the hiring of a team of social workers to accompany police officers and a commitment to pursue increased drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in any shooting.

Documents reveal how the Rochester Police Department spent months trying to suppress details of Daniel Prude’s suffocation death.

WNY GOP operative Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, apologized to the health secretary and to his staff members for a bizarre and incendiary Facebook outburst and is considering a leave of absence to address physical health problems.

Six states have been dropped from New York’s coronavirus travel advisory. Under the state’s revised policies, incoming travelers from California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, and Ohio will no longer be required to quarantine for two weeks before entering the tri-state area.

…this occurred even as the state also recorded a one percent positive COVID-19 infection rate — breaking its nearly 40-day streak.

The Big Apple shut down everything from museums to movie theaters, but New York City’s pandemic lockdown reduced the spread of coronavirus by 70 percent, according to a new study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

A collection of New York legislators, NYC Council members and advocates are calling on the governor to release $4 billion worth of federal coronavirus funds for struggling nonprofits and service providers suffering the economic impacts of the pandemic.

The Cuomo administration is relaxing coronavirus restrictions at nursing homes to allow family members in-person visits with loved ones for the first time since the pandemic hit in March.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo walked back threats from last week that he would raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest should Washington fail to grant additional federal aid to state and local governments hit hard by COVID-19.

Despite speculation to the contrary, the governor assured candy-craving kids that he has no plans to cancel Halloween or ban trick-or-treating amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The state will release guidance on how to safely participate in the Oct. 31 festivities, but an outright ban would not be appropriate, Cuomo said.

Officials at the state Department of Labor has terminated a fugitive with a lengthy criminal history, including arrests for identification theft, who had been among hundreds of clerks hired since March to help process unemployment claims.

Cuomo is blaming politicians beholden to utility interests for limiting penalties those companies can face when the lights go out.

The NYC Council is set to vote on a bill today that would institute a 10 percent surcharge on diners’ total bills to help financially-strapped restaurants hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

As complaints about overflowing garbage bins continue to flow into City Hall and with the city’s finances in a shambles, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a three-pronged plan to clean up city streets, including a partnership with community groups and businesses to sponsor community cleanups and “mobilize volunteers.”

The mayor said that he would reallocate some funding to the city’s Department of Sanitation and other agencies to cover the restored services. The cuts to the department were part of a belt-tightening budget and made in response to a financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Complaints about scofflaws drag-racing in New York City have increased five-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to public data crunched by a state senator.

Left-wing activists and their allies on the NYC Council are once again facing off against a coalition of unions, allied lawmakers and business groups over the fate of a proposed mega-redevelopment — this time, at Brooklyn’s Industry City.

Subway riders can now travel across Manhattan without their MetroCard. The MTA said that it has completed installation of electronic readers for its new fare-payment system, OMNY, across all of the borough’s subway stations.

Thousands of New York City Police Officers retired or have put in for retirement during a four-month period extending from the end of May to September, a 75 percent increase over the same period last year, police officials said.

Albany health officials are questioning the way public colleges and universities are counting on-campus COVID-19 cases as dozens of new infections were confirmed in the county overnight Monday.

Officials at the State University of New York have come to an agreement with United University Professions ( UUP) on COVID-19 testing of all union-represented faculty and staff who are required to report to campus.

Another Columbia High School student in Rensselaer County has tested positive for coronavirus, officials announced.

At least five public schools in Nassau County were closed yesterday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, while the state announced it is relaxing rules for visiting nursing homes.

NYC school buildings shuttered last week for ventilation system repairs are getting the all-clear to reopen — but staffers are skeptical their buildings are safe.

Maverick Stow, the Long Island high schooler protesting his district’s hybrid learning model by repeatedly going to school on his mandated remote learning days, was hit with a one-year suspension.

…Superintendent Kevin Coster said in his decision that Stow, 17, a senior, was suspended through June 30, though the suspension can be revisited in January. Stow’s instruction would come from virtual tutors and online teaching.

Citing coronavirus concerns, dozens of teachers at the Manhattan High School for Economics and Finance declined to enter their building and instead sat in chairs in front of the facility while manning laptops. They were threatened with docked pay if they didn’t return to the classroom.

The New York City Board of Health passed measures that loosen some of the requirements for teachers and directors in child-care settings, and in the facilities needed for a school nurse, citing a need for extra flexibility during the coming academic year.

Actress and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon describes the vast chasm between the protections taken against COVID-19 on the set of her TV show and at her 9-year-old son’s school.

The Siena Saints will begin their schedule no earlier than Nov. 25 and start Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference competition on the week of Dec. 6, league officials confirmed.

Columbia University’s marching band said in a letter that it voted to disband after a Saturday meeting to address anonymous Facebook posts accusing band members of misconduct.

The head of the New York State Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, accused Columbia University President Lee Bollinger of taking a veiled swipe at Trump in a welcome back email message sent to students to start the fall semester.

GOP leaders including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will make the case today for electing a Republican to lead the Big Apple’s coronavirus recovery — laying out a plan to add more cops, cut taxes and get the homeless off the streets.

The NYPD Bomb Squad and the FBI are reportedly investigating a Queens home containing suspected bomb making materials.

After nearly 28 years, Coyote Ugly — the famed dive bar that inspired a movie of the same name — will shut its doors in the East Village forever, CEO and founder Liliana Lovell announced.

Suffolk County Legislator Sam Gonzalez has introduced legislation that would raise the local legal age for smoking and vaping from 21 to 25.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has introduced a scaled-down $3.3 billion budget for 2021, proposing tens of millions of dollars in spending cuts and calling on the county’s financial control board to refinance hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to avoid a looming financial crisis.

With a security guard blocking the door, protesters were back at Gowana Middle School last night to demand the Shenendehowa School District ban the Confederate flag.

A dark vehicle speeding away from the scene on Old Sixth Avenue in Trow where an 11-year-old boy was killed in a drive-by shooting Sunday night has been identified through video collected from cameras, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation said.

A state prosecutor told a judge that former Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove’s grand jury presentation into the 2016 police shooting of Edson Thevenin was a “charade” and “quick whitewash” predetermined to clear the sergeant who fired the fatal shots.

Albany County legislators defeated a resolution explicitly banning county employees from working on political campaigns while on county time and instead approved a measure to look at larger issues around time and attendance for county workers.

As the state Independence Party faces a threat to its survival, the party is backing a child actor turned cryptocurrency mogul – Brock Pierce – as its candidate for president in 2020.

The Working Families Party is also fighting for survival and needs 130,000 New Yorkers to vote for Biden on its line, or it will lose its automatic ballot spot.

Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington is causing some controversy after it was revealed that her driver’s license was suspended when she was pulled over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

Over a year after helping 9/11 first responders receive access to a crucial compensation fund, the comedian and advocate Jon Stewart has turned his focus toward helping the nearly 200,000 veterans who’ve said their health was compromised by their exposure to burn pits while serving overseas.

Cardi B has filed for divorce from her husband of three years, Offset, and is seeking primary physical custody as well as legal custody of their 2-year-old daughter, Kulture.

The search for missing Greenville man Steven Grunwald, 24, ended Monday when the search and rescue team found what they think is his body in a notch between two mountain peaks in the Rocky Mountains, the National Parks Service announced.

William H. Gates II, who raised a precocious and headstrong young man known as Bill Gates and later helped the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. give away his billions, died Monday at his beach home on Hood Canal in Washington state, the family said. He was 94 years old and had Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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