Over the past few days, downtowners have witnessed extremes of life and death in the Hudson River—a humpback whale exploring the waterway, flipping its tail as if to wave at the Statue of Liberty; and throngs of dead fish floating at the river’s edge and in North Cove, with more expiring around them, frantically gulping for air at the surface.
Are these gratifying and grim spectacles linked? We checked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and learned that the dead fish are menhaden—a staple in the diet of humpback whales. The whale might have followed a school of menhaden up the river. Or, as the DEC also told us, whales move past this area as they migrate south and this one may have just taken a wrong turn.
Atlantic menhaden, Brevoortia tyrannus
Why are the menhaden dying? According to the DEC, die-offs of menhaden—aka bunker—are not unusual. Fish that swim in large schools are particularly vulnerable to low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, and, unfortunately, oxygen levels regularly dip in the Hudson River. Get more information about the Hudson River here. For details about oxygen levels in the Hudson River, click here, where you’ll find test results obtained recently on A Day in the Life of the Hudson River.
Low oxygen levels in the water don’t affect whales. Whales get their oxygen when they surface and breathe through the blow hole on their backs.
If you would like to report fish kills or other unusual sightings in New York Harbor or its tributaries to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Liberal in the Streets, NIMBY in the Sheets’
Margaret Chin Pushes Back Against Racially Charged Pasquinade
A controversy has erupted over the use of a poster by critics of City Council member Margaret Chin that caricatures her as Godzilla, the metropolis-destroying monster featured in dozens of Japanese films starting in the 1950s. The image superimposes the Council member’s face on the behemoth’s body, and rechristens the creature “Chinzilla.”
“The sentiment behind these personal attacks is nothing new,” Ms. Chin said on Tuesday. “Perhaps xenophobia in the wake of coronavirus has made this poster less palatable than when we first encountered it. Nevertheless, I am reassured by those who stood with me to condemn this ludicrous—and poorly photoshopped—piece of propaganda. Other elected officials of color have endured and will endure similar tactics and it’s important that we denounce racism in any form—and yes, the poster is still racist even if a person of color produced it.”
Stringer On New Yorkers Being Priced Out of Their Communities
New York City Comptroller, mayoral contender, and Lower Manhattan resident Scott Stringer took part in a candidates’ forum last Saturday, as part of the annual West Side Tenants’ Conference.
Mr. Stringer condemned the controversial plan by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to move several hundred homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel, on the Upper West Side, to the Radisson New York Wall Street Hotel, in the Financial District, saying, “the mismanagement of this administration, who does it hurt at the end of the day? It really hurts the most vulnerable people. He is taking the men at the Lucerne and moving them around as if they are just collateral damage to a failed mayoralty and a failed housing plan. We have to do better.”
Jenny Low, a longtime Lower Manhattan activist and community leader, has entered the race for the City Council seat that will be vacated next year by Margaret Chin, who is required to step aside because of term limits.
“Iʼve spent my whole life fighting for Lower Manhattan, and Iʼm ready to put my skills and experience to work fighting for a recovery from this pandemic that puts working families, small business owners, and our Cityʼs most vulnerable first,” Ms. Low says. She is entering a crowded field. To read more…
Global sovereign funds—huge government-guided investment funds—have become the world’s new VCs, creating overnight winners in the technology world. From Shanghai to Silicon Valley and sub-Saharan Africa, sovereign funds, more active than ever before, are betting big. What are the pros and cons of these behemoths throwing their weight around? Are these investments politically driven? How is the United States responding to the new actors on the global stage? And what role is China’s sovereign fund playing? Winston Ma, a digital economy expert and former executive of China’s sovereign fund, and Paul Downs, a leading sovereign fund lawyer, share insights from their new book, The Hunt for Unicorns: How Sovereign Funds Are Reshaping Investment in the Digital Economy. Free
To successfully travel to Mars, and beyond, bioengineering in the form of gene editing and synthetic biology may be required to overcome our very human limitations. Yet these advancements in science and space exploration cannot be disentangled from several important questions. How might they disrupt our definition of what it means to be human? Who is included in conversations about what advances are necessary for space travel? What are the genetic rights of the lands we seek to inhabit? Join this meeting to hear the latest findings in space biology, intertwined with discussions that contextualize their ethical impact.
In this lecture, Thomas. E Chávez will discuss Spain’s key role in the birth of the United States. From monetary support to naval engagements and ground warfare, Spain’s involvement turned a revolution into a world war, and greatly aided the Patriot victory. This lecture will take place using Zoom.
Another Day, Another Court Ruling about 52 William Street
On Thursday afternoon, Justice Anil Singh of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division granted a temporary stay, which has the effect of halting once again the planned transfer of more than 200 men from the Lucerne Hotel, on the Upper West Side, to the Radisson Wall Street Hotel, located at 52 William Street.
This order is slated to remain in effect until at least December 14, when a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division is scheduled to hear further arguments, and decide whether to extend the stay, or allow the transfer to proceed while litigation continues. To read more…
Santa’s Secret Helpers
Imagine what it’s like to be a kid who, for some reason, isn’t on Santa’s list. Now, just imagine what a huge impact you can make in the life of a child and their parents by being their secret Santa.
Stockings with Care, a charity based in Lower Manhattan, steps in to help when parents cannot provide Christmas gifts for their children, so no child is left out. But the organization, which has benefited over 40,000 children since 1992, needs your help. The parents give the gifts that donors (such as you) provide to the child, preserving their dignity and connection, while ensuring the gifts received are the ones the child wished for. Stockings with Care has created five easy ways to contribute.
The Church Street School for Music and Art will continue a decades-long Downtown tradition (albeit, in virtual form, as a concession to COVID-19) by offeringGingerbread House Decorating Kits (priced at $85), now through Christmas week.
Each take home kit includes one homemade gingerbread house, a variety of candy, freshly made icing, and one foiled round to set your house up on. In addition to offering great holiday fun, this program is one of the most important fundraisers for the highly regarded non-profit institution that has brought enrichment to the lives of generations of Lower Manhattan kids.
Two separate residential towers planned for the Financial District are suffering from the local real estate slowdown. In developments first reported by the online real estate journal, YIMBY, the building now under construction at 161 Maiden Lane has undergone removal of pieces of its facade in recent weeks (the only recent activity on the otherwise-stalled project), while construction equipment has been removed from 45 Broad Street, which is the site of a planned 1,115 foot residential tower.
1508 – The League of Cambrai is formed by Pope Julius II, Louis XII of France, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and Ferdinand II of Aragon as an alliance against Venice.
1520 – Martin Luther burns his copy of the papal bull Exsurge Domine outside Wittenberg’s Elster Gate.
1541 – Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham are executed for having affairs with Catherine Howard, Queen of England and wife of Henry VIII.
1684 – Isaac Newton’s derivation of Kepler’s laws from his theory of gravity, contained in the paper De motu corporum in gyrum, is read to the Royal Society by Edmond Halley.
1868 – The first traffic lights are installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Resembling railway signals, they use semaphore arms and are illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps.
1884 – Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is published.
1901 – The first Nobel Prize ceremony is held in Stockholm on the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.
1902 – The opening of the reservoir of the Aswan Dam in Egypt.
1906 – President Theodore Roosevelt wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the mediation of the Russo-Japanese War, becoming the first American to win a Nobel Prize.
1907 – The worst night of the Brown Dog riots in London, when 1,000 medical students clash with 400 police officers over the existence of a memorial for animals that have been vivisected.
1953 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill receives the Nobel Prize in literature.
1968 – Japan’s biggest heist, the still-unsolved “300 million yen robbery”, is carried out in Tokyo.
1993 – The last shift leaves Wearmouth Colliery in Sunderland. The closure of the 156-year-old pit marks the end of the old County Durham coalfield, which had been in operation since the Middle Ages.
1452 – Johannes Stöffler, German mathematician and astronomer (d. 1531)
1610 – Adriaen van Ostade, Dutch painter (d. 1685)
1787 – Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, American educator, founded the American School for the Deaf (d. 1851)
1815 – Ada Lovelace, English mathematician and computer scientist (d. 1852)
1830 – Emily Dickinson, American poet (d. 1886)
1908 – Olivier Messiaen, French composer and ornithologist (d. 1992)
1911 – Chet Huntley, American journalist (d. 1974)
1956 – Rod Blagojevich, Corrupt politician as 40th Governor of Illinois
925 – Sancho I, king of Pamplona
949 – Herman I, Duke of Swabia
1113 – Radwan, ruler of Aleppo
1310 – Stephen I, Duke of Bavaria (b. 1271)
1896 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist and engineer, invented Dynamite and founded the Nobel Prize (b. 1833)
1909 – Red Cloud, American tribal chief (b. 1822)
1968 – Thomas Merton, American monk and author (b. 1915)
1990 – Armand Hammer, founded Occidental Petroleum (b. 1898)
1993 – Alice Tully, American soprano (b. 1902)
2005 – Eugene McCarthy, American poet, academic, and politician (b. 1916)
2006 – Augusto Pinochet, Chilean dictator as 30th President of Chile (b. 1915)
EYES TO THE SKY
November 30 – December 13, 2020
Full Snow Moon rises this afternoon, winter stars follow, planets delight
The Full Snow Moon rises above the east-northeast horizon this afternoon at 4:48pm, nearly simultaneous with sunset in the southwest at 4:29pm. See moonrise about an hour later every evening and sunset remaining within seconds of 4:29pm until the winter solstice, which occurs on December 21.
Mornings, awake to the intriguing spectacle of moonset in the west-northwest as the Sun rises in the southeast. Tomorrow, December 1, sunrise is at 7:01am, while the great orb of the moon will be visible in the daylight blue sky until 8:08am. See the moon higher and longer in the morning sky – in waning gibbous phase – everyday this week. The Sun rises about a minute later everyday through the 26th: Sunrise is at 7:12 on 13th.
Downtown Restaurants Brace for More Closure Orders
As New York wades deeper into its second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, some local restaurants are trying to get ahead of the curve of anticipated closures by voluntarily shutting down both indoor and outdoor dining.
Among these is Blue Smoke, in Battery Park City, owned by legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which is also taking similar measures at the company’s Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern.
Distressed Downtown Real Estate Indicators Point South
The first Baron Rothschild is said to have advised, “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” If he was correct, this may be an auspicious moment to purchase real estate in Lower Manhattan, where the distress is acute. To read more…