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Hochul sworn in as N.Y.’s first female governor after Cuomo exit

Kathy Hochul was sworn in Tuesday as New York’s first female governor shortly after the clock struck midnight as the state prepares to move on from the decade-long tenure of the embattled Andrew Cuomo.

After Cuomo’s resignation became official at 11:59 p.m., Hochul was sworn in by the state’s chief judge, Janet DiFiore, at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday in the State Capitol in Albany.

A more formal ceremonial swearing-in will take place Tuesday at 10 a.m., with Hochul’s family members and the state’s two other top politicians, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in attendance.

The trio of top politicians in Albany has for decades been known as the “three men in a room,” famous for cutting closed-door deals on legislative and budget matters. With Hochul joining Stewart-Cousins in top posts, the dynamic now becomes two women and a man.

Hochul, 62, is scheduled to make her first formal address as governor Tuesday afternoon, when she is expected to lay out her priorities. She has refrained from going into detail about her plans since Cuomo announced he was stepping down this month, saying the state can have only one governor at a time, but she has strongly indicated that one of her first orders of business would be a mask mandate for the impending school year.

“I’ve done the due diligence to determine the authority that is vested in the Department of Health, and I expect to be making an announcement on that very shortly on Tuesday. But people should be ready,” Hochul told reporters Friday.

Other pressing issues include the state’s eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of the month, as well as reforming the state’s slow-moving $2.7 billion rental relief fund and its $2.1 billion worker relief fund. State Sen. Jessica Ramos told The City website that she had already met with Hochul about the worker fund. “There are issues of transparency and accessibility that we’ve already begun discussing,” Ramos said.

Hochul, a former member of Congress from Buffalo who has been lieutenant governor since 2015, has promised a more transparent and less abrasive tenure than that of the often-combative Cuomo.

“No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” she told reporters after Cuomo announced his resignation after a scathing report by the state attorney general’s office found that he sexually harassed 11 women and that his office was a hostile work environment.

Cuomo has denied the harassment allegations but acknowledged that working in his office could be “tough” because it is a high-pressure environment.

Hochul has used the two weeks since Cuomo’s announcement to meet with elected officials around the state and to build up her administration. Hochul will serve the rest of Cuomo’s term, and she has said she plans to run for the job next year.

Hochul announced two key appointments to her administration Monday, naming Karen Persichilli Keogh as her secretary — effectively the governor’s No. 2 — and Elizabeth Fine as counsel to the governor.

Hochul said the pair “bring the depth of knowledge, leadership and experience that it will take to meet the challenges New Yorkers face.”

Keogh has worked for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Clinton voiced her support in a tweet Monday.

“She was a trusted advisor when I had the honor of serving NY in the Senate. She has a steady hand & knows every corner of the state. @KathyHochul has made a great choice in appointing her,” Clinton tweeted.

More appointments are expected soon. Hochul said Monday, “As governor, I will assemble a strong team to turn the corner on the pandemic and serve the best interests of New York, whether it’s defeating Covid, getting more people vaccinated or strengthening our economy.”

Hochul will also have to contend with fallout from Cuomo’s time in office.

While his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said in a statement Monday that he has no intention of running for office again, the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is pushing ahead with its impeachment inquiry. After it announced that it was scuttling the investigation of allegations of sexual harassment, misuse of state resources and covering up coronavirus deaths because of Cuomo’s resignation, the committee is now expected to release a report with its findings in the coming weeks. Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing.

In a resignation address Monday, Cuomo said the state faces numerous challenges, some of them from the delta variant of the coronavirus, and said he thought Hochul was up to the task.

“I believe she will step up to the challenge. We all wish her success,” Cuomo said.

As he often did as governor, Cuomo also took a not-so-veiled shot at New York Mayor Bill de Blasio while praising his expected successor, the heavily favored Democratic nominee Eric Adams.

“I think he’ll bring a new philosophy and competence to the position,” Cuomo said.

De Blasio met with Hochul for about an hour last week.

“It was just a good, healthy, sane — emphasize the word ‘sane’ — conversation, which I truly appreciate,” de Blasio told reporters.

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Pop mogul Simon Cowell was a racing flop with ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec – that didn’t win a penny

SIMON COWELL conquered the music world – but his foray into racing ended in disaster with an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec.

The music mogul, 62, has done it all with bands like One Direction, Little Mix and solo acts Olly Murs and James Arthur, to name but a few.

Cowell owned an 'awful' £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec - but the runner didn't win a single penny in six races

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Cowell owned an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec – but the runner didn’t win a single penny in six racesCredit: PA:Press Association
Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

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Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

His Syco label – plus shows such as Britain’s Got Talent – have dominated the entertainment industry and brought him an estimated net worth of £385m.

A lover of Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby, he looked perfectly poised to strike a knockout blow in the world of thoroughbreds.

But it turns out his runner was far from No1 in the charts – and never even finished better than fifth during a doomed six-race career.

Things looked promising at the start.

Named It’s A Yes From Me, the runner was trained with the respected James Fanshawe and sent off at 8-1 for his first race in June 2014.

But coming last of five by 13-and-a-half lengths was unfortunately about as good as it got for the gelding.

A month’s rest followed before he was sent off at 40-1 in a six-furlong sprint at Doncaster.

But there he could only manage fifth again, and it was same at Redcar the next month.

‘Dreadfully slow’

By October that year – with further finishes of sixth and tenth – It’s A Yes From Me came second-last in a one-mile race at Kempton.

One analysis of the race warned punters the horse was ‘one to tread carefully’ with.

Well, Cowell and Ant and Dec took that advice to heart as they never raced him again.

The horse was penniless from six races, never finishing high enough to recoup some of that £35,000 investment.

It’s doubtful Cowell, with hundreds of millions in the bank, lost any sleep over that.

But Ant and Dec revealed just how bad things has got with the horse during an interview last year.

Dec said of It’s A Yes From Me: “It was awful, it was a dreadfully slow horse.

“It wasn’t a racehorse it was just a horse, because it didn’t race.

“Every time we got to the BGT studio Simon would say, ‘I keep paying stable fees on this horse, but I’ve never seen it run’.”

Cowell originally wanted to name the nag after himself, but they settled on It’s A Yes From Me when they bought it in 2013.

‘It was awful’

Dec revealed its eventual fate: “I think it got rehomed.”

Of course it’s not all been bad for Cowell at the races.

He was one of the exclusive few at the Epsom Derby in June, having a great time with partner Lauren Silverman and Piers Morgan.

And two weeks later he was at Royal Ascot – where he first discovered his love of racing.

Cowell told SunSport’s Matt Chapman during a chat at Epsom: “I’ve got my son Eric with me today.

“My mum and dad years ago used to take me to Ascot and I was probably about his age – seven or eight.

Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this year

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Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this yearCredit: Getty
It's A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races

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It’s A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races
The music supremo tweeted about his horse's bad start... which never got much better

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The music supremo tweeted about his horse’s bad start… which never got much better

Most read in Horse Racing

“So the fact I can now bring him to the races as well is brilliant. It brings back a lot of good memories.

“Making TV shows is my passion. But racing is actually my second passion.”

He hasn’t made that passion the money-maker his music label is, but don’t rule out Cowell staging his own comeback at the track in the near future.

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Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org
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Minnesota wildfire doubles in size, creates its own weather

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota more than doubled in size Tuesday, growing to more than 19,000 acres, after it produced pyrocumulous clouds that generated lightning and even raindrops, fire officials said.

The Greenwood Fire’s growth, most of which happened Monday afternoon, prompted firefighters to leave McDougal Lake, about 80 miles south-southwest of Duluth, officials said. Authorities fear that structures might have been destroyed or damaged.

“We had crews embedded, and as this fire took off, it was quite an effort to communicate with forces on the ground so they could get out,” said federal fire incident spokesman Clark McCreedy.

The pullout was a success, and no injuries were reported. However, downed trees and necessary cleanup mean crews have been unable to assess damage around the lake, McCreedy said.

In addition to the firefighter pullout, 159 dwellings were evacuated Monday, according to an update from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Cabins, homes and recreational sites remain under threat, the group said.

Patrick Prochaska, a Minneapolis resident who built a cabin near McDougal Lake in 2012, told NBC affiliate KARE that he watched via security camera as flames mostly bypassed his property Monday, causing minor damage.

“I was feeling very scared,” he said. “At the same time, I could see that it was not doing anything to the house, and it was kind of reassuring.”

The fire in and north of Superior National Forest has mostly performed according to the weather, fire officials said. On Monday, with dry fuel on the ground and temperatures in the high 80s, it was an expanding inferno punctuated by strobes of lightning.

“The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions,” the incident’s fire behavior analyst, Michael Locke, said in a video update Tuesday. “It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere … you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

Temperatures dipped into the mid-70s Tuesday, and the blaze mellowed. “The real story was cloud cover and cooler temperatures,” McCreedy said.

More of the same, and possibly rain, was in the forecast, giving officials hope that they might be able to close the book on an unusually active and dry fire season in Minnesota.

Experts have said climate change has set the stage for extreme weather, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere.

Firefighters — 426 were assigned to the Greenwood event — have been confronted with “prolonged, severe drought,” making parts of Minnesota look like the fire-prone West this summer, McCreedy said.

The Greenwood Fire, which was detected Aug. 15, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

So far, firefighters have scored no containment, and areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake and the Highway 2 corridor have been under mandatory evacuation orders. The federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was closed Saturday “due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources,” the National Forest Service said in a notice.

Officials set a goal of Sept. 1 for full containment.

“We’re probably going to get more of that moderating weather for the rest of the week,” McCreedy said. “That opens the door for fire crews to make progress on the ground.”

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Hiker survives grizzly bear attack at Denali National Park

A tourist from Indiana was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday night, park officials said.

The 55-year-old tourist, whose name was not released, was hiking alone in dense fog in the Thoroughfare Pass area when a mother bear and multiple cubs charged him from nearby bushes, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.

He had puncture wounds to a calf, his left ribs and his left shoulder, the agency said.

The victim used bear spray that might have cut the attack short, the park service indicated. He walked 1.5 miles to a visitor’s center where “medical personnel” vacationing at Denali treated him as a park bus driver called 911, it said.

The hiker was taken to a medical center near the park before he was transferred to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, about 120 miles away, park officials said. He was stabilized at the Fairbanks hospital, they said.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the park service said. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Grizzly bears are federally protected as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fewer than 1,500 grizzlies are left in the lower 48, but they thrive, comparatively, in Alaska, where they have a population of about 31,000.

The backcountry area of the attack is closed for one week as a precaution, the park service said.

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