Welcome to Tuesday – a big day in presidential politics, CivMixers.
For my fellow political junkies, it’s time to break out the popcorn and get ready for the first verbal sparring match between President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, which will take place at 9 p.m. at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland.
Since this is taking place in the middle of a pandemic – something that will no doubt come up quite a bit on the debate stage – things will be a bit different than usual. For starters, the candidates also won’t exchange handshakes with the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News.
Once on stage, none of the three men will wear masks.
The size of the audience will be limited and everyone attending in person will undergo COVID-19 testing beforehand, and be required to follow other health safety protocols. The average in-person audience for a debate is around 900 people, with up to as many as 1,200, depending on the venue. Tonight, there will be maybe 70 people – tops – in the in-person audience.
Trump has managed to set very low expectations for Biden, which is great for Biden, who basically just has to not make any major gaffes and remain upright and awake to come out on top. When your opponent has called you “dumb” repeatedly, and also suggested you’re on drugs, you don’t have to knock anything out of the park to come out looking like a hero.
Wallace has detailed these possible topics for discussion: The Supreme Court, Trump and Biden’s respective records in office, COVID-19, the economy, the integrity of the election, and issues of race and violence. But he has also said those are subject to change based on developments in the news. (Hello? New York Times story about Trump’s taxes?)
Happily for those of us who are early risers (and early-to-bed types, as a result) and need to extend our days by several hours in order to catch all the debate action, today is also National Coffee Day. Freebies for the caffeine obsessed abound today…check some of those out here.
(BTW, National Coffee Day is not to be confused with International Coffee Day, which is taking place just a few days from now, on Oct. 1. IMHO, every day is coffee day. Coffee is life. Forever and ever. Amen).
Here’s some fun and useless coffee related trivia to get your day started off with a jolt of knowledge:
According to Guinness World Records, the largest cup of coffee was 6,007 gallons, brewed by Alcaldia Municipal of Chinchina in Caldas Colombia on June 15, 2019. It took 50 people more than a month just to build the cup to hold this monstrous beverage.
The world’s most expensive coffee is the kopi luwak, with prices ranging from $100 to $500, per pound. The coffee is produced when civets eat coffee cherries and their digestive enzymes break down specific proteins in the beans. It is later defecated and collected for coffee.
Yes, this is the infamous poop coffee you’ve heard so much about. It is indeed a thing, and it’s not so great for the civets. So maybe we should just stick to Folgers.
It’s going to be partly cloudy this morning, with thunderstorms likely in the afternoon and temperatures in the mid-70s.
In the headlines…
The number of worldwide coronavirus deaths has surged past 1 million, which is much higher than the 690,000 lives lost by AIDS or the 400,000 deaths attributed to malaria in all of 2019.
The bleak milestone, recorded by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas. It is 2 1/2 times the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969. It is more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
President Donald Trump formally announced a plan to disperse the 150 million rapid coronavirus tests first promoted by the White House in August.
The first shipments, totaling 6.5 million tests, will be sent this week, and the amount each state receives will be based on population data.
Experts praised the news as a welcome endorsement of the importance of rapid and widely available testing, but the test numbers cited by federal officials are nowhere near what is needed to contain the spread of the virus.
Governors are being encouraged to use the tests to reopen K-12 schools.
Top White House officials pressured the CDC this summer to play down the risk of sending children back to school, a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic, according to documents and interviews with current and former government officials.
Public health experts fear winter will bring the seasonal flu on top of the coronavirus pandemic, and many parents, at least one survey suggests, aren’t going to vaccinate their children against it.
Teenagers are about twice as likely to become infected with the coronavirus as younger children, according to an analysis released by the CDC.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were not on the same page yesterday as they gave an update on the U.S. response to the ever-worsening coronavirus pandemic.
House Democrats last night unveiled a scaled-down $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package in an attempt to revive long-stalled talks with the Trump administration on the measure. A vote is possible later this week.
Republican senators, joined by some Democrats, are lining up meetings with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett ahead of her confirmation hearing in two weeks, as GOP leaders moved ahead with plans to have Trump’s pick on the bench by Election Day.
In what was once the epicenter of the virus, New York reported an uptick in cases over the weekend, seeing its first day with more than 1,000 new cases for the first time since June. Many of the new cases are centered around southern portions of the state and in New York City.
Alarmed by soaring infection rates in nearly a dozen New York ZIP codes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo felt compelled to hold a second conference call in two hours yesterday to discuss the clusters and warned drastic measures may come next.
Cuomo called on local schools and governments to step up actions to curb the spikes and offered the immediate use of 200 rapid-testing machines that can churn out a test every 15 minutes.
New York City officials are threatening to impose a sweeping lockdown starting today on neighborhoods with soaring COVID-19 infection rates.
All international travelers arriving at New York airports must now quarantine for 14 days after arrival, according to a new executive order from Cuomo — with the exception of a select few nations.
Cuomo announced that he will extend residential tenant eviction protections by executive order through Jan. 1, 2021. The state Safe Harbor Act protects tenants from COVID-19-related residential evictions and foreclosures.
“I want people to have fundamental stability in their lives,” the governor said. “Nobody is going to be evicted because of housing.”
About 14,500 New Yorkers could lose their homes when the state’s protections run out. The unemployment rate in the state was 12.5 percent in August, despite four consecutive months of job creation.
After the NYC principals’ union called for the state to takeover their school system and declared a vote of “no confidence” for Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, Cuomo said he’ll be monitoring schools re-opening, but there will be no takeover.
NYC Department of Education funding for substitute teachers and other emergency instructors will balloon from roughly $2 million to about $48 million this year due to the coronavirus crisis.
When hundreds of thousands of children in the nation’s largest school system stream back into school buildings this week for the first time since March 13, they will find their schools and classrooms transformed.
Cuomo is calling on local governments to re-open homeless shelters as homeless encampments proliferate amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying: “Not only is a homeless encampment a violation of that person’s dignity, it’s a public health threat now.”
The governor’s aides declined to specify exactly where the problematic encampments the governor was referring to were located.
Numerous economic indicators suggest that New York City will face an extended financial crisis as a result of the pandemic, the likes of which has not been seen since the 1970s. Former LG Richard Ravitch says: “We’re on the verge of a tragedy.”
More than one in three New Yorkers have felt symptoms of depression since COVID-19 unleashed havoc upon the Big Apple, according to a new survey from the Department of Health.
New York City’s restaurant industry held a wake for itself yesterday outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office – complete with a white coffin and bagpipes — to protest COVID-19 restrictions.
Dozens of large restaurants and chains across New York, including some in the Capital Region, have notified the state this month that they intend to lay off of workers or continue furloughs as part of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, New York has faced dozens of lawsuits challenging the sweeping authority state officials have invoked to respond to the public health crisis – and attorneys say that trend is expected to continue.
De Blasio said the city will look into whether Trump has paid the correct amount of city taxes.
Cuomo made certain to weigh in on the New York Times article exposing Trump’s failure to pay federal income taxes for years, calling the president “a business failure when you actually look at the facts.”
Trump has agreed to speak remotely Thursday at the New York Archdiocese’s first ever virtual Al Smith fundraising event amid the coronavirus pandemic, church officials said.
The mayor signed three bills designed to protect hotel workers, small business owners and sick employees from the coronavirus pandemic and economic ramifications.
A group of longtime businesses on Brooklyn’s Coney Island boardwalk say they barely survived the summer as they struggled to keep up with recent rent increases while serving far fewer customers because of the new coronavirus pandemic.
A battery-powered scooter struck de Blasio while he was on a morning walk in Lower Manhattan — but he walked away unscathed, according to his spokesman.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his office would make a multimillion-dollar grant to create a trauma-focused therapy center in Harlem to help residents avoid succumbing to the cyclical violence that can perpetuate crime and incarceration.
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service and the Trump administration to immediately stop instituting policies that may slow down mail service ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Officials around New York are using private funding to defray the higher costs of holding a presidential election in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
With five weeks left until the Nov. 3 election, many voters are eager to cast their ballots absentee and early. A growing number of registered voters in Brooklyn, however, received ballots yesterday with an incorrect return address.
Voters in New York City have received mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election marked for military use despite never having served in the armed forces — causing confusion and concerns over whether the ballots can or should be used.
The Big Apple’s scandal-marred elections agency failed to keep track of the thousands of computer tablets it uses for poll books, to train staff and to transmit unofficial results on Election Night.
Siena College researchers have found “quantifiable levels” of coronavirus in wastewater at the dormitory on the north side of campus. Cases are rising at the Loudonville private college and at least 18 students have tested positive for the virus since mid-August.
Some Albany city school district teachers and staff who on Friday told students they would not be returning to work today because their jobs had been cut were then offered roles as substitutes at a lesser per diem rate, according to union leaders.
The Whitehall Elementary School will be closed to in-person instruction today after a person in attendance at the school Friday tested positive for COVID-19.
A member of the Guilderland High School community has tested positive for COVID-19, the district announced, but did not specify whether the case was a student or someone who works in the building.
Recent patrons of Villa Valenti’s Pub in Troy are being asked to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms after a customer who dined there Friday night tested positive for the disease.
City residents head to the polls today to vote on the proposed 2021 Troy Public Library budget of $1.37 million and to elect two members of the library board.
The record-breaking pace of homicides here and across the Hudson River in Albany has police examining whether the remnants of two rival gangs are renewing the street violence they were known for starting years ago, law enforcement officials familiar with the recent investigations said.
A juror in the Breonna Taylor case contends that the Kentucky attorney general misrepresented the grand jury’s deliberations and failed to offer the panel the option of indicting the two officers who fatally shot the young woman, according to the juror’s lawyer.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross says the 2020 census will end Oct. 5, despite a federal judge’s ruling last week allowing the head count of every U.S. resident to continue through the end of October.
Loyal supporters of NXIVM chief Keith Raniere delivered a letter to Brooklyn federal prosecutors over the weekend demanding they affirm they did not allow perjury or tamper with evidence in the sex cult leader’s high-profile case.
Even as she faces sentencing, Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, has refused to denounce Raniere and NXIVM, saying they “greatly changed my life for the better.”
Forty-three student journalists at NYU’s Washington Square News quit en masse over a dispute with their new advisor.
Two years after a photo-sharing scandal involving explicit images rocked New York City Ballet, a judge has dismissed most of the legal claims made by the woman whose lawsuit started it all.
State Police are investigating the death of a hiker on Hadley Mountain on Sunday in Saratoga County, officials confirmed.
With blue skies and the reds, yellows and oranges of fall leaves at their peak, hiking in the Adirondacks this past weekend was at levels as high as, or higher, than ever before — and with high usage came higher levels of injuries, parking issues and misuse of the wilderness.
Photo credit: George Fazio.