The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Saturday, December 26th, 2020

The Conservative Calendar, Top 10 Clips of the Day, Top 10 Links of the Day, Local News Briefing, US News Briefing, Global News Briefing and The 'Rock of Talk' Debate of the Day

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“Look at her.  All you can see are pictures.  No life.  That’s what it’s like with murdered children.  Pictures and no life.  Why?  It’s not someone who should be allowed to live among us.  Yet they do.  That’s why I do what I do.”  -Homicide Detective to Woodward, 2016 (Jon Benet Ramsey)

THE CONSERVATIVE CALENDAR

Forecast at The KIVA: High 50 Degrees at 3pm (Will feel like 49) Low 23 Degrees at 4am (Will feel like 20). Winds get to 8MPH at 8:00am. Sunny and Clear today. *Weather is from the KIVA Weather Station.

Today is Saturday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2020. There are five days left in the year.

In 1776, British forces suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

In 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 1996, six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93.

In 2010 a powerful East Coast blizzard stranded thousands of travelers and dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas.

Today's Birthdays: Record producer (and convicted murderer) Phil Spector is 81. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 75. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 49.

TOP 10 CLIPS OF THE DAY

  1. The Top 20 Most Mortifying Media Moments of 2020

  2. Nashville Explosion Eyewitness Describes Being Evacuated Right Before the Blast

  3. Downtown Nashville Thrown Into Chaos After Explosion

  4. Joey DeGraw on Nashville Explosion: ‘The Explosion Was So Strong I Thought We Were Having an Earthquake’

  5. Nashville Explosion Eyewitness: ‘The Most Incredible Explosion Ever’

  6. Nashville Explosion Eyewitness: ‘It Was Quite the Blast’

  7. Nashville Mayor John Cooper Announces Curfew Around Blast Site, Focus on Catching Bombers: ‘We Are Going from Relief Now to Resolve’

  8. Betsy Williams Who Lost Her Home, Business Stunned to Discuss Apparent Attack with Anderson Cooper on Christmas

  9. CBS News: Witness and Aerial Footage Shows the Devastation in Downtown Nashville After an Explosion on Christmas Morning

  10. Mysterious Twitter Account Posts Video Showing Nashville Bomb Warning and Explosion

TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY

  1. Unemployment claims in Santa Fe County, state continue to fall but remain high

  2. Local guy, 5th string walk-on QB shines, inspires

  3. Two employees sue county DA's office, claim hostile work environment

  4. Does Haaland pick show Biden commitment to public lands fracking ban?

  5. Majority of Americans plan to delay COVID vaccine or not get it at all

  6. Your Trauma and Mine: A Retrospective on 2020

  7. 'Unprecedented' mail volume delays Christmas gifts

  8. Democrats shatter fundraising records ahead of Georgia Senate runoffs

  9. Beethoven and the Cure of Souls

  10. Lori Loughlin, other celebs in jail get special Christmas meals

LOCAL NEWS BRIEFING

New Mexico light traditions persist despite virus

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexicans have tailored Christmas candlelight traditions during the pandemic, turning luminaria and farolito "walks" into drives. With virus infections and deaths still high, traditional Christmas parties have been canceled. But some streets were packed Thursday night in neighborhoods where small bags of sand filled with candles were put on display. The toll from the pandemic continues to rise, with 36 additional deaths being reported Friday, and 1,465 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 2,307 deaths and over 135,000 cases. Health officials say around 60,000 people have recovered from the disease caused by the virus. 

Part-time Las Vegas resident wins $15.5M jackpot

LAS VEGAS — A part-time Las Vegas resident has won a $15.5 million Megabucks slot machine jackpot. The winner, identified only as Kevin by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, gambled $40 on Christmas Eve and won the state's largest slot machine jackpot in eight years. Kevin splits his time between Las Vegas and Alaska. He had made a Christmas Eve visit to the Boyd Gaming casino. He said that he plans on using his winnings to support his business and promised to "pay it forward" with the money.

Pandemic, historic election top New Mexico's 2020 headlines

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — From lockdowns in tribal communities to the economic and social fallout that has reverberated throughout New Mexico, the coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines in 2020. COVID-19 infections are on track to top 140,000 by the end of the year, while more than 2,200 New Mexicans have succumbed to the virus. The year also was marked by a historic election fueled by mail-in ballots. Questions about election integrity prompted legal challenges. Culture clashes resulted in monuments being toppled in some spots. New Mexico's push toward renewable energy, its persistently troubled education system and the end of a decade-long treasure hunt inspired by a New Mexico antiquities dealer also made news.

Border Patrol names new chief patrol agent for Yuma Sector

YUMA, Ariz. — A Border Patrol official with 25 years of experience that included assignments in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas has been named chief patrol agent for the agency's Yuma Sector. U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that Chris T. Clem replaces Anthony Porvaznik, who recently retired after five years in the position. Clem started his career as an agent in Lordsburg, New Mexico, and most recently was acting chief patrol agent for the Big Bend Sector in Texas. The Yuma Sector includes 126 miles of international border in Arizona and California along with three stations and three checkpoints.

Texas company opts to settle case over New Mexico fuel spill

CIMARRON, N.M. — The state Office of Natural Resources Trustee has reached a proposed settlement with a Texas-based company over a fuel spill along a northern New Mexico river. A tanker truck carrying more than 1,000 gallons of fuel overturned in icy conditions in 2016 and spilled its liquid cargo into the Cimarron River near a wildlife management area. State officials said fish and invertebrates were killed and surrounding soil and sediment was contaminated. A portion of the river had to be closed to public access for several months. Under the settlement, Fronk Oil Co. will pay $150,000 toward restoration projects.

New Mexico to meet deadline for sending out relief checks

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Around 15,000 residents previously ineligible for pandemic stimulus checks have started receiving payments from the state. The group includes immigrants in the country without work authorization. Officials with the New Mexico Human Services Department said the $465 relief payments began arriving this week via direct deposit or checks. The Legislature allocated $5 million to the fund for those who hadn't received federal payments in April. Agency officials say they were able to identify an additional $2 million on top of that. COVID-19 cases have been declining in New Mexico, but the economic fallout from the pandemic continues.

New Mexico makes push with at-home COVID-19 test kits

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is partnering with a national health care company to provide free, at-home COVID-19 test kits. State health officials said Tuesday that the kits can be ordered via Vault Medical Services' website. All that's needed is an internet connection, email address and a photo. State officials acknowledged the lack of broadband access around New Mexico and said the new at-home option is meant to bolster the in-person testing clinics that have been operating since the pandemic began. The state also is launching a new registration app where people can sign up for vaccinations. More than 14,000 shots have been administered to health care workers so far.

New Mexico governor: Coronavirus poses no threat for Santa

SANTA FE, N.M. — It's official, at least according to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham: Santa Claus and his reindeer are immune to COVID-19 and can safely visit homes across the state. Lujan Grisham's office on Wednesday announced that she had issued a proclamation assuring New Mexico children that health experts had determined the coronavirus poses no danger to Santa and his hoofed helpers. As for the formalities, the proclamation designates Santa as an essential worker and exempts him from New Mexico's social distancing and travel requirements. Lujan Grisham added that she hopes everyone stays safe over the holidays.

US NEWS BRIEFING

Downtown Nashville explosion knocks communications offline

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A recreational vehicle parked in the deserted streets of downtown Nashville exploded early Christmas morning, causing widespread communications outages that took down police emergency systems and grounded flights at the city's airport. Police believe the blast was intentional but don't yet know a motive or target. Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake noted that officials had not received any threats before the explosion. The chief said investigators have found tissue at the scene that they believe could be remains. Mayor John Cooper  said three people taken to area hospitals for treatment were in stable condition Friday evening.

2 kids die, 2 injured in Detroit fire; mom jumps from window

DETROIT — Fire department officials say a Christmas morning fire killed a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old at a home on Detroit's east side and forced their mother to jump from a second-floor window to escape holding her 3-year-old in her arms. Two other children who survived, an 8-year-old and 10-year-old, were badly burned. A deputy fire commissioner, David Fornell, called the fire "a Christmas tragedy." Fornell said the mother and the 3-year-old were not seriously injured. Fornell said later Friday that the 8-year-old and 10-year-old appeared to have escaped from the first floor. Earlier reports cited officials as saying they may also have jumped from the upper floor. Fornell also confirmed the woman was the mother of all five children.

Duke women end basketball season amid virus

The Duke women's basketball team ended its season Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic, The team has been on pause since Dec. 16 because of two positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program's travel party. The Blue Devils postponed games against Miami, N.C. State and UNC Wilmington. The team's next scheduled game was against Louisville on Thursday. The men's basketball team planned to keep playing.

In this Dec. 28, 2019, file photo, then-Boston Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Boston. The Duke women's basketball team has ended its season amid the coronavirus pandemic, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, because the school has not publicly announced the decision. Duke's new coach Kara Lawson, who was hired in July, had said this month: “I don't think we should be playing right now. That's my opinion on it."

Black doctor dies of COVID after racist treatment complaints

INDIANAPOLIS — A Black doctor who died battling COVID-19 complained of racist medical care in widely-shared social media posts. It has prompted an Indiana hospital system to promise a "full external review." According to her Facebook post, Dr. Susan Moore tested positive for COVID-19 in late November and was hospitalized in suburban Indianapolis. The physician said she had to repeatedly ask for medication, scans and routine checks while admitted. She noted a white doctor in particular who seemingly dismissed her pain. She was sent home but was hospitalized again. Her condition deteriorated, and she died Dec. 20.

'Unprecedented' mail volume delays Christmas gifts

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Some Christmas gift-givers discovered their presents didn't arrive in time for the holiday despite ordering weeks ahead. The U.S. Postal Service says it faces "unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19." A 21-year-old man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, had to tell his father that an online order he placed Nov. 30 for a collector's model diecast of a NASCAR racing car would have to wait. An Ann Arbor, Michigan, woman who ordered Christmas ornaments online Nov. 17 found out it wasn't enough time.

Police: Man steals mini-snow plow, crashes into Target

BAY SHORE, N.Y. — A Long Island man has been arrested after a Christmas morning crime spree that gave new meaning to the term doorbuster. Police say it happened shortly before 2 a.m. Friday when Justin Shuffle stole a skid steer snow pusher from a Bay Shore shopping center and crashed it through the front doors of a Target. Authorities say Shuffle then swiped a coat and several gift cards before police caught him in the electronics section of the big-box retailer. The 33-year-old pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary and larceny. It was not clear whether he had a defense attorney.

Democrats in Georgia Senate contests take in more than $200M

ATLANTA — The latest campaign finance figures show the Democrats running for Georgia's two U.S. Senate seats each raised more than $100 million over two months. The massive haul by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock eclipsed contributions to their Republican opponents and reflects the high stakes of the twin contests. The two races will determine which party controls the Senate _ and likely how ambitious President-elect Joe Biden can be with his agenda. Ossoff's opponent, Sen. David Perdue, reported $68 million over the same two-month period from Oct. 15 through Dec. 16. Warnock's opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, took in just under $64 million in that span.

US to require negative COVID-19 test from UK travelers

ATLANTA — The United States is going to require airline travelers from Britain to get a negative COVID-19 test first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new policy late Thursday. The U.S. is the latest country to announce travel restrictions because of a new variant of the coronavirus that is spreading in Britain and elsewhere. Airline passengers from the United Kingdom will have to get a negative COVID-19 tests within three days of their flight. The requirement goes into effect Monday. The CDC said because of restrictions in place since March, air travel to the U.S. from the U.K. is down by 90%.

Kamara's 6 TDs tie NFL record; Saints beat Vikings 52-33

NEW ORLEANS — Alvin Kamara tied an NFL record by running for six touchdowns in a game and finished with a career-high 155 yards rushing to help New Orleans beat the Minnesota Vikings 52-33 and clinch their fourth straight NFC South title. Kamara sprinted for a 40-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive and added five more short scoring runs against a Minnesota defensive front hit hard by injuries. Kamara equealed a record set by Hall of Fame fullback Ernie Nevers in 1929. Minnesota was eliminated from playoff contention while allowing the most points by any Vikings team since 1963.

GLOBAL NEWS BRIEFING

COVID-19 vaccine shipments arrive across EU before rollout

WARSAW, Poland — The first shipments of coronavirus vaccines have arrived across the European Union as authorities prepared to begin administering the first shots to the most vulnerable people in a coordinated effort on Sunday. The vaccines developed by BioNTech and Pfizer arrived by truck in warehouses across the continent on Friday and early Saturday after being sent from a manufacturing center in Belgium before Christmas. The rollout marks a moment of hope for a region that includes some of the world's earliest and worst-hit virus hot spots. Altogether, the 27 EU member states have seen at least 16 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 336,000 deaths.

Montenegro's indebted state airline ceases operations

PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro Airlines has ceased operations after the small country's new government refused to continue financing the indebted national carrier. The airline, which was formed 25 years ago, has apologized to its passengers for the sudden termination of all flights and thanked them for "the years of trust, travel and friendship." The company, which operated a small fleet and flew to many European capitals, is estimated to have accumulated more than 150 million of euros in debt, which grew further with the collapse of the summer tourist season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asia Today: Beijing tells residents to stay put for holidays

BEIJING — Beijing has urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, implementing fresh restrictions after several coronavirus infections last week. Two domestic cases were reported on Friday, a convenience store worker and a Hewlett Packard Enterprise employee. Another two asymptomatic cases were discovered earlier. Beijing is conducting testing on a limited scale in the neighborhoods and workplaces where the cases were found. It canceled big gatherings such as sports events and temple fairs. Venues such as cinemas, libraries and museums have to operate at 75% capacity. Officials in the northeastern port city of Dalian say they've tested over 4.75 million people after 24 confirmed infections this month. South Korea has reported another 1,132 cases.

Series of explosions target police in Kabul; at least 4 dead

KABUL, Afghanistan — A series of explosions has hit the Afghan capital, killing at least four people including two police officers and wounding another four. Police and a public health official say the the deaths were caused by a sticky bomb attached to a police vehicle detonated in western Kabul. Two other police were wounded when a bomb attached to their car exploded earlier in southern Kabul. A third sticky bomb detonated in eastern Kabul but caused no casualties. There are reports of at least two other blasts elsewhere in the city but police have no immediate details. The latest attacks come as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators hold talks in Qatar, trying to hammer out a peace deal that could put an end to decades of war.

4 arrested in Mexico crash that killed current, ex-governor

MEXICO CITY — Authorities say four people have been arrested in connection with the 2018 crash of a helicopter that killed a central Mexican governor and her husband — who had preceded her as governor. The Agusta 109 helicopter crashed in flames 10 minutes after takeoff on Dec. 24 that year while carrying newly installed Puebla Gov. Martha Erika Alonso and former Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle, as well as three other people. The Puebla state prosecutor's office said Friday the suspects worked for a company "related to the functioning of the aircraft," It said the suspects were accused of culpable homicide, damage to another's property and false testimony.

Pope on COVID-19 vaccine: Needy, vulnerable must come first

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has made a Christmas appeal to nations to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are available for all. In his annual Christmas message on Friday, he urged that the vulnerable and the needy be first in line to get the vaccine shots. Francis said the laws of the markets and patents can't come before the "laws of love and health of humanity. "  Francis lamented that the pandemic has "only worsened" grave economic and social imbalances in the world. Amid a surge of coronavirus infections in Italy, Francis gave his speech from inside the Vatican instead of from his traditional perch on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Japan adopts green growth plan to go carbon free by 2050

TOKYO (AP) — Japan aims to eliminate gasoline-powered vehicles in about 15 years in a plan to achieve Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's ambitious pledge to go carbon free by 2050. The plan announced Friday also aims to generate nearly $2 trillion growth in green business and investment. The "green growth strategy" urges utilities to bolster renewables and hydrogen while calling for auto industries to go carbon free by the mid-2030s. Suga has pledged to achieve a net carbon zero emissions in 30 years. He said green investment is an opportunity for growth not a burden.

No cafes, no tourists: Virus empties streets of old Athens

ATHENS, Greece — It's been a while since visitors to Greece sought out souvenirs in Athens' oldest neighborhood. The winding streets of Plaka are lined with closed stores behind aluminum shutters. The coronavirus pandemic has kept tourists away from the historic city center that forms a semi-circle around the Acropolis, and the area remained unusually devoid of pedestrians and motorists before Christmas. In their absence, ancient monuments are a little easier to make out from a distance and fewer horns are sounding in traffic. Two nationwide lockdowns since the start of the pandemic have closed bars, restaurants, coffee shops and many other businesses considered non-essential but which make up a large slice of Greece's tourism-dependent economy.

ROCK OF TALK’ DEBATE OF THE DAY

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said this week that employers can legally require workers to get the coronavirus vaccine, under the directive that they have to ensure a safe workplace.

However, the EEOC said that workers with a disability or a, quote, "sincerely held" religious belief that prevented them from getting the vaccine are exempt. In those cases, the employer must try to make a reasonable accommodation for the worker, such as letting them work from home. But if that's not possible, a company can keep them from entering the workplace if they pose a potential health threat.

It doesn't mean, however, that an employer can summarily fire a worker who doesn't want to be vaccinated, according to the EEOC, which says they could be eligible for unpaid leave or other similar entitlements. But if a worker's job can't be done remotely and there's no reasonable way to accommodate their wish not to be vaccinated, they can be terminated. 

  • What do you think of the EEOC saying that an employer can require workers to get a coronavirus vaccine under the directive to provide a safe workplace?

  • If you have to be in your workplace to do your job but don't want to get the vaccine, would you rather lose your job than be vaccinated?

  • Would it bother you if you were vaccinated and you knew that co-workers in your workplace were refusing to get the vaccine?

  • Do you have concerns about the vaccine, or do you trust that it's safe?

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