Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers.
When it comes to pet ownership – or “companion animals,” as some prefer – dogs edge out cats in the U.S. During the pandemic, in particular, dog adoption/purchase has reportedly soared, as Americans found themselves cooped up at home, sometimes alone, with too much time on their hands and a lot of anxiety to contend with.
President Harry Truman supposedly once said: “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” (Whether this quote is accurate, and whether Truman indeed was the one who said it is in dispute…but it’s a great quote, nevertheless).
The Washington Post has reported that every occupant of the White House since William McKinley has had a dog at some point – except the who is currently residing there, Donald Trump. There has been ample attention given to this fact, and also discussion about whether it helps or hurts Trump at the polls.
(For the record, VP Mike Pence has a dog named “Harley,” which he joked that he got from his wife in 2017 after he asked for a motorcycle for Father’s Day. The Pence family also has a cat, Hazel, and an instagram famous pet rabbit – AKA BOTUS – named Marlon Bundo, who has more follower than I do).
Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden is a dog guy. In 2018, he adopted a German Shepherd that had been exposed to toxic chemicals and was being cared for by the Delaware Humane Society. The dog’s name is Major.
Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, is reportedly an “enthusiastic tweeter of doggy things,” and a supporter of animal protection bills, but has not formally introduced a family pet on the campaign trail.
Why am I bothering to detail all this – aside from the fact that I, too, am a dog person, which regular readers of this space know all too well? Because today is National Dogs in Politics Day, which commemorates the “Checkers speech” that then-California Sen. Richard Nixon delivered on this day in 1952.
During that speech, Nixon refuted allegations related to campaign contribution improprieties. He said that he intended to keep one gift, regardless of the outcome: a black-and-white dog that his children had named Checkers, thus giving the address its popular name. By alluding to his children and the family dog, Nixon touched a public nerve making him seem more personable.
The speech was seen and heard by about 60 million Americans, including the largest television audience at the time, (TV was still a relatively new medium then), and it led to an outpouring of public support.
UPDATE: Thanks to some very well-read readers, I have to eat some crow here. Nixon was NOT in federal office when he delivered this speech, he was the Republican vice presidential candidate six weeks before the 1952 U.S. presidential election.
Today’s Google Doodle is the winner of the annual Google for Doodle contest, in which students in grades K-12 are invited to create their own doodle for the chance to have it featured on the massive search engine’s site, and also win scholarships and tech packages for their schools.
The contest’s theme this year was “I show kindness by…” And the winning artwork was submitted by a Texas fifth grader named Sharon Sara whose artist statement reads: “I show kindness by sticking together with my friends in tough times.” Sara will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and her school, Vaughn Elementary School, will receive a $50,000 technology package.
We are headed back into warmer weather territory today, with temperatures in the low 70s and partly cloudy skies. Those among us who are lamenting the passing of summer will get a final little taste of it over the weekend, as the mercury flirts with 80 degrees. But don’t get too used to that, because we’re headed back down into the 50s next week.
In the headlines…
The House last night passed a short-term spending bill keeping the government funded through Dec. 11, after Democrats reached a deal with the White House over farm aid and food assistance.
The bipartisan agreement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, reached just hours before the vote, is expected to smooth the bill’s passage in the GOP-controlled Senate and avert a partial shutdown when the government’s funding expires next Thursday. (One Democrat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, voted present).
The final sticking point was an infusion of money into a farm bailout program that Trump has used to repay farmers hurt by his trade policies. In exchange for agreeing to the bailout money, Pelosi secured about $8 billion for a variety of nutrition programs, including for schoolchildren affected by the coronavirus pandemic — a significantly larger sum than had been on the table Friday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. reaching 200,000 coronavirus deaths is “very sobering, and in some respects, stunning,” while adding that Americans should trust medical experts despite at times conflicting signals from the highest levels of government.
Trump said that it’s a “horrible thing” and “a shame” that the U.S. passed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, adding: “China should have stopped it at their border, they should have never let this spread all over the world.”
China responded angrily to Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, in which he blamed the communist country for the coronavirus pandemic — with Beijing accusing Trump of spreading a “political virus.”
Trump this week incorrectly claimed at a campaign rally that Covid-19 “affects virtually nobody” under the age of 18, again downplaying the extent of the pandemic and contradicting his previous statements that the virus poses a risk to “plenty of young people.”
Colleges and universities that reopened for face-to-face instruction might have caused tens of thousands of additional cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending parents and children not do trick-or-treating for Halloween this year.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said he would support a floor vote to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, essentially clinching consideration of Trump’s nominee this year despite the impending election.
…Only two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they oppose the nomination effort, which wouldn’t be enough to derail it, given the GOP’s 53-47 Senate advantage.
Trump said he plans to announce his new Supreme Court nominee at 5 p.m. on Saturday, claiming that the country will need all nine justices in order to decide on the legality of mail-in ballots following the November elections. Judge Amy Coney Barrett has emerged as his overwhelming favorite contender.
Democrats are beginning to discuss how to avoid pitfalls when they face off against the President’s nominee in confirmation hearings as soon as next month, recognizing that’s likely their lone shot at derailing a conservative jurist who could tilt the ideological balance of the court for decades to come.
The Brooklyn Municipal Building will be renamed after Ginsburg, a native of Flatbush.
Cindy McCain has endorsed Joe Biden for president, a stunning rebuke of Trump by the widow of the Republican party’s 2008 nominee.
…The endorsement follows McCain’s appearance in a video about Biden’s relationship with her late husband at the Democratic National Convention in August. McCain offered her endorsement on Twitter after Biden had told donors she was supporting him.
Trump mocked Biden for allegedly getting plastic surgery — and then covering it up with a mask.
A Canadian woman accused of mailing a package containing ricin to the White House included a threatening letter in which she told Trump to “give up and remove your application for this election,” according to court papers filed yesterday.
Trailing the Biden campaign by double-digits in polls and well over a million dollars in campaign cash, Trump’s re-election campaign spent nearly a half-million dollars in fireworks last month, and more than $200,000 on lawyers who specialize in “petty media feuds.”
Air Force 2, which was carrying Vice President Mike Pence at the time, returned to a New Hampshire airport shortly after takeoff last night because the plane struck a bird.
People detained by U.S. immigration authorities will no longer see a Georgia doctor who’s been accused of performing hysterectomies on women without consent, a government spokesman said.
New York state reported three new COVID-19 deaths and 754 new cases on Monday.
Six Big Apple neighborhoods now account for 20 percent of all coronavirus cases citywide — part of a local surge in the global pandemic that includes a stretch of southern Brooklyn dubbed the “Ocean Parkway Cluster,” health officials said.
NYC health officials said that they were especially concerned about a clear uptick in transmission among some of the city’s Hasidic communities, which were devastated by Covid-19 in the spring but had seen few cases in the summer.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that five states – Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming – have been added to New York’s COVID-19 travel advisory. No areas have been removed.
Fed-up New York City restaurant owners and workers are planning to march on Cuomo’s Manhattan headquarters next week to protest what they call lethal COVID-19 restrictions on the industry.
As fall officially began, and with other major cities already unveiling cold-weather dining plans, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a decision “very soon” on whether and how to let restaurants continue offering outdoor dining throughout the colder temps.
The New York City Council is considering several bills that would aid restaurants as they try to recover from the economic hit brought on by the new coronavirus pandemic, including one that would make sidewalk and curbside street dining permanent.
Assembly members Pat Fahy and John McDonald, Democrats who represent districts in and around Albany, believe the State Liquor Authority and Cuomo have been overly aggressive in their enforcement of pandemic-related health and safety regulations imposed on New York’s restaurants and bars.
Ronald Lauder, a billionaire heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, has dropped $1.7 million into the operations of the new independent expenditure group called Safe Together New York, which is targeting a half-dozen state Senate Democrats for defeat.
State health officials say audits of New York’s Medicaid program showing over $700 million in unnecessary payments are misleading and do not reflect the impact of reforms implemented earlier this year to slow growth in costs.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has threatened to yank the federal agency’s office out of Lower Manhattan, blaming the ongoing protests that have roiled the city for months and targeted federal workers.
State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision acting commissioner Anthony Annucci told lawmakers the agency took appropriate steps to stem the spread of COVID-19 among inmates and attempting to increase testing.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board is slated to formally ban defecating on its subways, buses and transit facilities during its meeting today.
MTA officials are set to vote on several new rules for using the transit system, including many that appear to target homelessness and loitering at Long Island Rail Road stations.
NYC does not have a final grasp on school staffing needs a week before the start of in-person learning for K-12 kids, de Blasio said.
After a summer of last-minute scrambles to ready city schools for in-person learning, what could be the toughest challenge yet is the recruitment, hiring and training of thousands of new teachers in just over a week.
The NYC Department of Education’s negotiated contract with the teachers union allows for remote classes to be as much as double the 34 student maximum for in-person high school classes.
Big Apple public school kids in need of reading tutors may be out of luck this school year thanks to the Department of Education’s beleaguered background check system.
Teachers at a CUNY high school nicknamed the “brick prison” (Hunter College Campus Schools) say the school hasn’t made good on its promise to install an air filtration system that’s effective against the coronavirus during reopening, new court papers show.
Teachers working in the Albany City School District are getting a crash course on virtual classroom security after an eighth grader at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School disrupted a 7th-grade lesson at North Albany and shared X-rated content with the students.
Less than a week before Albany sixth-graders are scheduled to return to the classroom, a severe mold problem and ongoing construction at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle have prompted officials to move classes to Albany High School for the first quarter of the year and postpone in-person learning.
Thousands of students who signed up to take the SAT college-admissions exam this week must now deal with test-site closings prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, testing authorities announced.
Two schools in the William Floyd School District on Long Island were closed yesterday after a middle school student tested positive for COVID-19, while a BOCES school in Hicksville where a staff member tested positive will halt in-person instruction until Oct. 5, officials said.
Miami-Dade County, Fla., one of the largest school districts in the U.S., will reopen classrooms to students next month.
Early data for the new school year suggests that attendance in virtual classrooms is down, possibly because students are working or caring for siblings.
Anthony Bottom, the last of three convicted Black Revolutionary Army members behind bars for murdering two NYPD cops nearly 50 years ago, is set to be freed on parole in October, police union officials said.
The 15-year-old charged with fatally stabbing Barnard student Tessa Majors during a park mugging reportedly was caught on a wiretap confessing to his jailed dad, as it emerged that the youngster has been indicted in yet another vicious robbery.
Below-knee amputee Amy Palmiero-Winters — who won a 2010 ESPY Award declaring her the world’s top female athlete with a disability — is suing her Long Island gym after they refused to return equipment she bought to train at the facility.
Elliot Shields, the attorney for Daniel Prude’s family, recently filed an Article 78 petition in the Supreme Court of Monroe County, alleging that the City of Rochester withheld information regarding Prude’s arrest and death in police custody.
Scott Solomon, a former campaign aide to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, was arrested and charged with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from her campaign accounts, including thefts that were made using credit cards and forged checks, according to court records.
Solomon, 34, who last year leased the recently shuttered Siro’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, turned himself in to State Police at the Capitol and was released after his arraignment.
Albany County quietly settled a whistleblower lawsuit with a former employee who claimed she was retaliated against after alleging county workers were working on County Executive Dan McCoy’s re-election campaign in 2015 while in their government jobs.
The City of Troy has finally appointed a new police captain, nearly eight months after the vacancy occurred when a retirement opened up the post.
The breakdown of a computer system central to PSEG Long Island’s storm response set the stage for a series of cascading failures for more than 500,000 customers after Tropical Storm Isaias, far more than the 420,000 the utility initially reported.
Tiz the Law won’t be running in the Preakness. He will train up to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington on Nov. 7.
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, has sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, saying that she “lives in fear that she or her children” will see unauthorized photos taken by deputies at the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, their daughter Gianna and seven others.
Animal Adventure Park, the home of the world famous April the Giraffe and her baby, is anticipating a new calf coming for its second female giraffe, Johari.
Photo credit: George Fazio.