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The state of California has approved the reopening of ballparks and Disneyland.

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The state of California has approved the reopening of ballparks and Disneyland.

 

Nearly a year after coronavirus restrictions forced the closure of major entertainment venues, California has paved the way for fans to attend opening-day baseball games and return to Disneyland.

With COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths plummeting and vaccination rates increasing, the state on Friday relaxed guidelines for reopening outdoor venues as a fall and winter boom appeared to be coming to an end.

Live concerts at stadiums and sports arenas will be allowed to reopen with reduced attendance on April 1 under new public health regulations. Amusement parks will also be allowed to reopen in counties that have moved from the state’s most stringent purple tier to the red tier.

Park capacity will be restricted in all situations, and COVID-19 safety regulations such as mask-wearing standards will be enforced.

Following a week of accomplishments, California increased vaccines for the poorest areas, counties reopened more businesses, and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing schools that have limited students to online learning to reopen classrooms this month.

“The data supports a clear opening. Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, clinical professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, said, “When cases decrease, we want to return to work and education.” “In particular, outdoor activities have always been low-risk. It makes sense to open these sites.”

For Kenny King Jr., a resident of Pleasant Hill in the San Francisco Bay Area who became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago, the reopening can’t come soon enough. He usually takes his family to the Southern California park five times a year, but his most recent visit was for his birthday just over a year ago.

King, 38, of said he’s looking forward to returning with his 8-year-old daughter, who has only recently begun to enjoy rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, as well as his 2-year-old son, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds when he visited last year.

“Disney trips are something we just started doing as a family,” King said. “Every now and then, we’ll sit around the house and say, ‘Man, I miss Disneyland.’”

Thousands of staff who were laid off by Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, and other major attractions were also applauding. At Disneyland and its associated attractions in Orange County, alone, ten thousand people lost their jobs, not to mention the effect on nearby restaurants and hotels.

Employees are “excited to go back to work and provide Californians with a little of magic in their lives,” according to Andrea Zinder, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents Disney employees.

Southern California, which is also in the purple band, is home to the majority of the big theme parks. Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, on the other hand, were planning to reopen in the coming weeks as their COVID-19 numbers fell.

Just 16 of the 58 counties are actually in the red category, with two minor counties in the green. None have yet been assigned to the yellow category, which is the least restrictive.

The potential of theme parks in the red tier will be limited to 15%.

In the purple tier, outdoor activities will be restricted to 100 participants, but in the yellow tier, the cap will be increased to 67 percent.

The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, and Oakland Athletics have all announced that fans will be in the stands on April 1st. Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants have announced that they will begin their seasons on the road.

In the purple category, teams and event leaders can only sell tickets regionally. Teams and promoters in the other tiers will sell tickets to everyone in California. Concessions will not be permitted in the purple tier, although concessions will be available only at the seats in the other tiers.

Richard Haick of San Pablo, California, has already purchased Oakland A’s ticket vouchers and plans to take his 10-year-old son to a game soon. His son participates in Little League baseball and is ecstatic to be able to watch games.

“It’s good to have some sense of normalcy, even in a reduced capacity,” said Haick, a 45-year-old photographer.

The accelerated reopening is linked to a new vaccination initiative for California’s most vulnerable people. It would be easier for counties to leave the state’s most restrictive tier once 2 million residents in 400 ZIP codes in the most deprived communities have received at least one vaccine dose. Counties will be able to set up even more vaccine clinics until 4 million residents in those neighborhoods have been vaccinated.

All of this puts California in a much better situation than it was a year ago, when Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order that limited travel, closed businesses, and put millions of people out of work. California continues to have some of the strictest regulations of any territory, discouraging out-of-state tourists.

The state is banking on inoculating enough of its 40 million inhabitants to prevent widespread COVID-19 infections, in order to reopen completely.

The Department of Public Health reported that just three months after the first injection, more than 10 million doses had been administered.

Just over 3 million people, or around 10% of the population aged 16 and up, have been completely vaccinated.

There are some encouraging signs. This week, the seven-day average rate of positive test results fell to 2.2 percent, which is a new low.

Despite mounting pressure to reopen the economy, health officials said that the improvements in recommendations were gradual and calculated rather than sweeping.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency, said, “We will keep our foot on the brake, not the gas, our eyes on the lane, hands on the wheel, and navigate based on data and science.”

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Queensbury students call for better handling of racism, sexism at high school

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Queensbury students call for better handling of racism, sexism at high school

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Come Monday, it’s either vaccination or termination for those who work in state run hospitals and nursing homes. Security officers are among those who work at state hospitals who are being forced to make that decision. The lawsuit claims that the vaccine mandate goes against their constitutional rights.

In a newly filled lawsuit against Governor Kathy Hochul, Heath Commissioner Howard Zucker, and the New York State Health Department, 10 individual state hospital security officers are fighting for the option to have regular COVID tests instead of being mandated to get the vaccine. They say it’s unfair that teachers would have the option for regular testing, but they won’t.

“Students who are 12 years or younger can’t be vaccinated,” said Dennis Vacco. “Inherently, the population in schools is less vaccinated than the population in hospitals or in health care facilities. To say nothing of the fact that health care facilities are constructed to prevent the spread of illness within the facility.”

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Kids’ Arts Festival returns to Schenectady this Saturday

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Kids’ Arts Festival returns to Schenectady this Saturday

SCHNECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The 27th annual Kids’ Arts Festival is celebrating creativity, culture and community this weekend. The festival is taking place on September 25 from noon to 4 p.m. along the Jay Street Marketplace and around City Hall in Downtown Schenectady.

Normally attracting more than 3,000 kids with their families, the festival brings free hands-on arts activities and performances.

“This year, we have a great mix of golden-oldie favorite art activities and new ones that let our imaginations soar,” said Betsy Sandberg, chair of Kids’ Arts Festival. “Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra will bring their arts-in-education program to Downtown Schenectady thanks to funding from The Upstate Coalition for a FairGame, which supports arts and cultural organizations in three New York State casino regions.”

Other performers and student groups include the Rock Camp Kids, the Electric City Puppets, Dueling Saxophones, and Dance Me Elite performers. A poster contest offers $100 prizes in three age groups. Happiness is the contest’s theme, and official entry forms and plenty of supplies for drawing will be available at Electric City Art Gallery.

In 2020, the festival went virtual and provided four hours of virtual arts programming.

The rain location will be inside Proctors Theatre. All required COVID safety protocols will be in place if the event moves indoors.

A complete list of activities and entertainment are available on the festival website.

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Trump lawyer who planned election overthrow to speak at conference despite objections

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Trump lawyer who planned election  overthrow to speak at conference despite objections

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — When John Eastman speaks during the American Political Science Association’s annual conference next month, he may want to tread lightly. Political scientists from across the country are condemning Eastman and chiding their own organization for allowing the former Trump lawyer to participate in the discipline’s most important annual meeting.

Eastman made national headlines this week following the publication of a memo he wrote last year that outlined a six-step plan to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Eastman is scheduled to participate in two panels at APSA, both run by the Claremont Institute, which lists him as a senior fellow on its website. The “virtual roundtables” are scheduled for Sunday, October 3, and are titled “The 2020 Elections and the State of American Conservatism” and “The Supreme Court’s Current and Future Direction.”

Dr. David Karpf, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, said Wednesday that Eastman’s plan to overturn the presidential election puts his views well outside the legitimate marketplace of ideas.

“If that was published as a blog post,” Karpf said of the memo, “I would call it laughable trash. Since it was presented to the Vice President of the United States, I would call it treason.” The memo said that then-Vice President Mike Pence should refuse to recognize electors from seven states and declare Trump president.

“The main thing here,” Eastman wrote, “is that Pence should do this without asking for permission—either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court.”

That suggestion, according to Karpf, was beyond the pale. “That’s overthrowing free and fair elections,” he said.

Eastman’s notoriety goes beyond that memo. In 2020, he was widely criticized for an op-ed he wrote that suggested Kamala Harris is not an American citizen. Eastman, who was a law clerk for Clarence Thomas, was also a professor at Chapman University School of Law. He retired from that position after giving a speech at the January 6 “Save America” rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

“He’s not a political scientist, but he and the Claremont Institute try to gain legitimacy by having little panels at APSA, where they present those sorts of arguments, or at least don’t have those arguments criticized,” Karpf, who is an APSA member, said. “That’s dangerous for American politics and APSA should not be associated with it.”

Karpf said that he believes those who attend the conference should make their views on Eastman and the Claremont institute clear. “Claremont should not be welcome anymore,” he said. “That’s not about the diversity of ideas. That’s about recognizing that there are some ideas that are so far outside of the boundaries of American political discourse that we should be not lending them our platform.”

This is not the first time political scientists have taken issue with APSA. In 2011, scholars opposed John Yoo’s participation in that year’s annual meeting. Yoo was a lawyer for former Pres. George W. Bush, who wrote documents outlining the alleged legality of torture techniques. In their response to members’ objections, APSA’s governing council said that it supported members’ right to protest Yoo’s presence “as we support the right of APSA members to produce panels and speakers on topics they think it important for the association to consider.”

In that letter, APSA clarified that “organizers of the affiliated group panel on which he participated,” not APSA itself, invited Yoo to the meeting. “These groups exist explicitly to bring forward diverse points of view,” the letter continued.

Like Yoo, Eastman is set to participate in a panel organized by an outside group, the Claremont Institute. On its website, Claremont Institute solicits donations of $5,000 to “support” its panels at the annual APSA conference.

“You may designate a gift at any level to APSA panels,” the Claremont page continues, “where our scholars teach the true principle of government and their application to today’s policies.”

For his part, Karpf has said he supports the diversity of ideas wholeheartedly. “I agree with the stance that we should have a diversity of ideas at the conference. I also would readily acknowledge that there are gray areas where it’s a difficult call,” he said. “But I think every political scientist, who has spent any time in America in the past four years, certainly since January 6, can look at that memo and immediately acknowledge that that is nowhere close to the line. There are difficult cases. And then there is this. This is not a typical case. This is so far beyond the line.”

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Race, gender major factors in COVID job recovery in Massachusetts

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Race, gender major factors in COVID job recovery in Massachusetts

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Come Monday, it’s either vaccination or termination for those who work in state run hospitals and nursing homes. Security officers are among those who work at state hospitals who are being forced to make that decision. The lawsuit claims that the vaccine mandate goes against their constitutional rights.

In a newly filled lawsuit against Governor Kathy Hochul, Heath Commissioner Howard Zucker, and the New York State Health Department, 10 individual state hospital security officers are fighting for the option to have regular COVID tests instead of being mandated to get the vaccine. They say it’s unfair that teachers would have the option for regular testing, but they won’t.

“Students who are 12 years or younger can’t be vaccinated,” said Dennis Vacco. “Inherently, the population in schools is less vaccinated than the population in hospitals or in health care facilities. To say nothing of the fact that health care facilities are constructed to prevent the spread of illness within the facility.”

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‘Tiger King 2’ confirmed, coming to Netflix this year

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‘Tiger King 2’ confirmed, coming to Netflix this year

(NEXSTAR) — Netflix announced on Thursday that “Tiger King,” the global phenomenon that premiered last March, will return with season two later this year. In the announcement, Netflix promised “more madness and mayhem.”

“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” followed zookeeper Joe Exotic—real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage—and captivated audiences during the first few weeks of lockdown. According to Netflix, the original series was watched by over 64 million households in the first four weeks following its March 2020 premiere.

In July, a federal appeals court ruled Joe Exotic should get a shorter prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws. He was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin.

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver found that the trial court wrongly treated those two convictions separately in calculating his prison term under sentencing guidelines.

The panel agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the court should have treated them as one conviction at sentencing because they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida.

According to the ruling, the court should have calculated his advisory sentencing range to be between 17 1/2 years and just under 22 years in prison rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison. The court ordered the trial court to resentence Maldonado-Passage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rensselaer businessman sentenced for wire fraud

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Rensselaer businessman sentenced for wire fraud

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Rensselaer County businessman was sentenced in a wire fraud scheme to import Chinese goods and then marketing those goods as U.S. made. The U.S. Department of Justice says Daren Arakelian, 53, has been sentenced to three months in jail for deceptively marketing those goods at his company.

Arakelian owned and operated Great 4 Image, a company that contracted with various federal agencies to produce backpacks, duffle bags, cinch bags, hydration packs, t-shirts and individual suspension trainers.  Each of his company’s contracts required Great 4 Image to comply with the Buy American Act and/or the Trade Agreements Act, laws that Congress enacted for the purposes of promoting the United States’ trade interests.

The Buy American Act restricts the federal government’s purchase of goods that are not domestic products.  The Trade Agreements Act establishes additional restrictions on purchases of products made outside the United States, and generally prohibits government contracting officials from purchasing products that are not entirely from the United States or a designated country.

The Trade Agreements Act effectively waives the requirements of the Buy American Act for designated countries. China is not a designated country.

As part of his March 2020 civil settlement with the United States and his guilty plea, Arakelian admitted that he devised and implemented the scheme to defraud the federal government.

Arakelian is also ordered to serve a two-year term of supervised release, to begin after he is released from prison, as well as perform 100 hours of community service. Arakelian went into custody after sentencing.

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Products that make picking up leaves a breeze

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Products that make picking up leaves a breeze

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Come Monday, it’s either vaccination or termination for those who work in state run hospitals and nursing homes. Security officers are among those who work at state hospitals who are being forced to make that decision. The lawsuit claims that the vaccine mandate goes against their constitutional rights.

In a newly filled lawsuit against Governor Kathy Hochul, Heath Commissioner Howard Zucker, and the New York State Health Department, 10 individual state hospital security officers are fighting for the option to have regular COVID tests instead of being mandated to get the vaccine. They say it’s unfair that teachers would have the option for regular testing, but they won’t.

“Students who are 12 years or younger can’t be vaccinated,” said Dennis Vacco. “Inherently, the population in schools is less vaccinated than the population in hospitals or in health care facilities. To say nothing of the fact that health care facilities are constructed to prevent the spread of illness within the facility.”

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NYS Health Commissioner Howard Zucker puts in letter of resignation

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NYS Health Commissioner Howard Zucker puts in letter of resignation

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After more than seven years on the job, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker has put in his letter of resignation. Zucker has led the State Department of Health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but he became a controversial figure in the COVID-19 nursing home scandal under former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Dr. Zucker has submitted his resignation, our Commissioner of Health. I agree with his decision,” Governor Kathy Hochul said announcing the departure at a press conference in New York City Thursday.

Hochul called Zucker a “dedicated public servant” and thanked him for his work during the pandemic. 

“He understands that in this time I’ve wanted to take the first 45 days to assemble a new team going forward. That process is ongoing,” she continued.

In his resignation letter, Zucker said he would work to provide a “smooth transition.” He touted his work on tackling issues like Ebola, Zika and COVID-19. And he said, “There comes a time when the baton should be passed.”

The New York State Department of Health said it “thanks the Commissioner for his years of dedicated service and commitment to public health.”

Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay said, “Dr. Howard Zucker’s resignation as Commissioner of the State Department of Health (DOH) was an obvious and overdue step.”

Barclay hopes whoever replaces Zucker doesn’t have ties to the previous administration or its controversies. 

Hochul has not yet named a replacement, but says that Zucker will stay on until the new person takes over. 

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Home construction, essential to economy, supports multiple industries

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Home construction, essential to economy, supports multiple industries

WASHINGTON (WWLP) — Everything you need to build and furnish a home come from businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of people and creates billions of dollars in revenue. From concrete, lumber and nails to carpets, appliances and furniture, every item must be manufactured, shipped, sold, and delivered, creating a national network that is an essential driver of the U.S. economy.

National Manufacturing Day is October 1, and is held annually on the first Friday in October. The idea is to showcase the importance of the related industries and modern manufacturing careers by encouraging companies and educational institutions nationwide to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders. These manufacturers estimate they will need to fill 4 million high-skill, high-tech and high-paying jobs over the next decade.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released an interactive visualization showing the value of shipments and employment for select manufacturing industries that produce housing-related products. The housing manufacturing data come from an annual survey that provides the most detailed statistics on the U.S. manufacturing sector: the Annual Survey of Manufactures.

Beginning Monday, the Census Bureau will start a weeklong celebration of manufacturing with blogs, infographics and other key content on a Manufacturing Day webpage to recognize the observance on the first Friday in October.

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Rochester car stolen with baby inside

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Rochester car stolen with baby inside

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester police are searching for a suspect after a car was stolen with a baby inside Wednesday.

According to investigators, the 6-month-old child was in the back seat of the vehicle on Fernwood Park around 2 p.m. when it was stolen. They say keys were in the vehicle and it was running when it was taken.

Police found the vehicle on Bedford Street with the child inside, unharmed, a short time later. The suspect had fled the scene.

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