The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Monday, December 7th, 2020
The Top 10 Links of the Day, New Mexico News Snapshot and Global and US News Snapshot
It's not all bad news for the Governor. In fact, there is some very good news for her making the rumor mill rounds. Insiders report that GOP Chairman Steve Pearce, who is expected to easily win another term as chairman today when GOP Central Committee delegates meet, is now testing the waters for another Guv run in 2022. "He's been putting out feelers in oil country," said one of our Alligators. MLG will surely root for Pearce's nomination. She trounced him 57 to 43 percent in 2018. -Joe Monahan “The Home for New Mexico Politics” - December 7th, 2020
TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY (BONUS)
NEW MEXICO LOCAL NEWS SNAPSHOT
Concerns raised about costs of New Mexico Civil Rights Act
SANTA FE, N.M. — A proposed New Mexico Civil Rights Act that would allow legal claims to be filed in state court over alleged infringements on free speech, freedom of religion and other constitutional rights is getting mixed reviews. Some members of the state's nine-member Civil Rights Commission are predicting that the proposed law would increase local governments’ insurance costs and lead to law enforcement officers leaving New Mexico. The measure had its first vetting before a legislative panel earlier this week. It's expected to generate a contentious debate during the 60-day legislative session that begins in January.
Native Americans critique data, surveys following election
PHOENIX — The lack of visibility of Native Americans in exit poll data on network television hit a nerve in Indian Country in the days following the election. Some Natives responded with an outcry while others turned to humor to address what many describe as a longstanding problem. Native Americans make up less than 2% of the U.S. population and often are listed as “other” or denoted with an asterisk in datasets. Even when surveyed, the results can be considered statistically insignificant because the sample size isn’t large enough or the margin of error is too great to accurately reflect the population.
Energy payments to states in US West plummet in 2020
BILLINGS, Mont. — Payments to western U.S. states have plummeted for oil, natural gas and coal extracted by private companies from U.S. lands. The revenue drop comes after low crude prices and the pandemic idled drilling in many areas in 2020. Federal data shows payments to states for drilling on public lands and in U.S. waters were down by $630 million, or about 26%, in this fiscal year. New Mexico and Wyoming took the biggest fiscal hits. Companies pay the U.S government for the right to drill for fossil fuels on public lands and in U.S. waters. The money is split with the states where drilling occurs.
Schools confront 'off the rails' numbers of failing grades
The first report cards of the new school year are arriving with a lot more Fs than usual, and it’s not just parents who are getting distressed. School districts from coast to coast have reported the number of students failing classes has risen by as many as two or three times — a sign of the struggles many students are having with distance learning, particularly English language learners, those with disabilities and other disadvantaged students. Educators see a number of factors at play: Students learning from home skip assignments — or school altogether. Internet access is limited or inconsistent, making it difficult to complete and upload assignments.
New Mexico reports 1,928 more COVID-19 cases, 32 deaths
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico on Saturday reported 1,925 additional known COVID-19 cases and 32 more deaths. Those figures increase the statewide totals since the pandemic’s start to 106,856 known cases and 1,738 deaths. According to the state's coronavirus dashboard, the number of current COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped to 925 from 934. New Mexico is dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases and related deaths and hospitalizations. Health officials have been warning that cases could go up in weeks following family gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Albuquerque closer to agreement for outside probes on police
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice are inching closer to an agreement to bring in outside investigators to probe police misconduct. The special counsel for the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, Paul Killebrew, said Friday that his office is in the process of negotiating with the city to file the measures in January. The efforts come after a scathing report was released by an independent police monitor of the city police department which said law enforcement was failing to police itself.
Navajo Nation extends stay-home order to halt virus' spread
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has extended a stay-at-home order through Dec. 28 to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The extension takes effect Monday and includes weekend lockdowns. The Navajo Nation has had some of the most restrictive measures aimed at COVID-19 anywhere in the country, and most of those have been in place since March. They include a mask mandate. Residents are required to stay home unless they must report to work, or need to get food, medication or essential supplies. Businesses have limited hours. Nez has urged residents not to leave the reservation or to gather with families.
Police provide details of deadly encounter with Black man
SANTA FE, N.M. — Activists are trying to bring attention to the case of a young Black man who was shot by New Mexico state police while on a road trip from Indiana to Arizona. Rodney Applewhite was on his way to Phoenix to visit family for Thanksgiving when he was shot following a police pursuit and altercation in which authorities say he grabbed an officer's gun and tried to unholster it while being taken into custody. Activists rallied Friday in New Mexico, Arizona and Indiana. They renewed calls for police reforms. Authorities also provided more details about what led to the deadly encounter, describing a string of erratic behavior.
US AND GLOBAL NEWS SNAPSHOT
CAPITOL CRUNCH WEEK
Lawmakers are rushing to forge a final coronavirus bill, as they spring to reach a pact on a bill to avoid a govt shutdown later this week. House and Senate leaders want to blend the bills into a final, mega-measure, and pass it by Dec 11 so lawmakers can go home to quarantine for the holidays. And then, to comply with DC health guidelines, re-quarantine to return to Washington to start the new Congress on Jan 3. This all comes against the backdrop of Pres Trump threatening to veto the annual defense bill. If Trump makes good on his threat, the House and Senate may attempt to override the veto this week, too.
PA-SCOTUS JUSTICE SAM ALITO ORDERS STATE OFFICIALS TO RESPOND TO TRUMP ALLY CHALLENGE
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., ordered Pennsylvania officials to respond to Rep. Mike Kelly’s election challenge a day earlier than previously scheduled, which will be on the same day known as the safe harbor deadline. Kelly, a Republican, is seeking to have the court toss all the state’s mail-in ballots on the grounds that universal, no-excuses mail-in voting is unconstitutional and needs a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. Alito, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, had previously ordered that the state’s lawyers respond to Kelly’s suit by Dec. 9, a day after the safe harbor date, which would mean that Congress cannot challenge any electors already named in accordance with state law. The law frees up states from challenges as long as it settles legal issues and certifies results prior to the Electoral College meeting. Alito moved Kelly’s case up 24 hours and wants state officials to respond by 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The report pointed out that the updated hearing on Dec. 8 “would give the court a few hours” to act on the information received.
COVID COMMUTER CUTS / BOSTON
Getting to work on public transportation could get a lot harder thanks covid related service cuts. Fewer trains and buses could affect the commutes of front line health care and other essential workers the most. New York's MTA is currently at 30% ridership and faces a $16.4 billion deficit by 2024. San Francisco's transit revenue is off 93% and Boston's MBTA is cutting subway and bus service and eliminating ferry service completely as it faces a $500 million shortfall. Will a federal stimulus bail out struggling systems or are commuters in for a rough ride?
"March to Mac's" to safely open all small businesses & schools in Staten Island, NY.
Authorities in NYC say the co-owner of Mac's Public House - a Staten Island bar that was defying coronavirus restrictions was arrested early Sunday after running over a deputy with his car. Sheriff Joseph Fucito says 34-year-old Danny Presti ran after deputies observed patrons entering the establishment. Presti is accused of getting into a car, running over a deputy and not stopping even as the deputy was left hanging onto the hood. The deputy was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. Charges against Presti are pending. Presti's attorneys the deputies did not identify themselves and Presti was not aware anyone was injured.
CA COVID SURGE & LOCKDOWN STRIFE / LOS ANGELES
33 million Americans are under strict COVID lockdown today, after a weekend of plunging ICU capacity in some of California's most populous regions. Southern California's ICUs are 89.7% full, and the San Joaquin Valley - home to farms that produce more food than any other growing region in the country - only has 6.6% of its ICU beds left. This as the state registered three days in a row of record-breaking case numbers - logging 77,161 cases since Thursday, when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the new stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) and other local officials face backlash over even more restrictive rules and viral moments that business owners say show hypocrisy in their own behavior and favoritism to certain industries, while others suffer.
GIULIANI CORONAVIRUS HOSPITILIZATION / WASHINGTON
President Trump announced on Sunday that his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani tested positive for the coronavirus. This comes days after Giuliani, who has been spearheading the president's legal efforts to dispute the results of the presidential election, appeared maskless at a Georgia State Senate hearing and in the hallways of the Georgia State Capitol. He also appeared on "Sunday Morning Futures." Giuliani's son, Andrew Giuliani a White House aide who tested positive for COVID-19 almost two weeks, tweeted Sunday evening that his father is "resting, getting great care and feeling well." Giuliani is 76 years old and previously survived a bout with prostate cancer. Giuliani's legal cohort Jenna Ellis tweeted that "our work won't be affected and we press on."
COVID VACCINE: THE FIRST STEPS / WASHINGTON
The development of the COVID-19 vaccine is the next great frontier of American ingenuity. Developed in less than a year, we take a deep dive into the development of the vaccine, Operation Warp Speed's distribution plan, how it will be administered, and what happens to American society once it's distributed.
UK VACCINE ROLLOUT PREPS
It's being called "V-Day" by the UK press. Tuesday in the UK, the first clinically tested and proven vaccines to end Covid 19 in the world will start to be administered. 50 hospital hubs around the country, including five in London, will start injections of over-80's and nursing home workers. It won't be easy. The first vaccine in use is the Pfizer model which for much of its transportation and storage process requires refrigeration of nearly 100 below zero Fahrenheit. And the maker is already struggling to get enough raw material for the treaments. But the first "cool boxes" are in the process of being delivered. 800,000 dosesare in the first tranche. Several million more doses are promised by the end of the month. We look at the challenges and what it means for the States. The FDA is set to look at approving this same vaccine by the end of the week. A vaccine summit including the head of Pfizer is being held at the White House on Tuesday, as well.
COVID-19 Response NYC
Hundreds of pre-k and elementary kids return to the classroom in NY for in-person learning. The reopening comes as NYC Mayor de Blasio shifted his initial plan to keep schools closed if the city's positive Covid test rate exceeded 3%. The United Federation of Teachers says the union supported the new plan so long as "stringent testing was in place." Students returning to school must have a signed consent form agreeing to coronavirus testing or a letter of medical exemption from a doctor. Tests will be conducted in schools on a weekly basis. Only about a fifth of students will be tested in a given week. Middle schools and high schools remain closed with students learning remote only.
RESTAURANTS DEFY VIRUS ORDERS
The 80-year old owner of Spiffy's Restaurant in Chehalis, Washington is refusing to close his establishment to in-person dining in defiance of Governor Jay Inslee's order. His stand has drawn a huge number of supporters and the attention of state inspectors. The owner says he's staying open for his employees who need the income. He also disputes the governor's assertion that restaurants are a major source of Covid-19 spread.
GA-HEATED SENATE DEBATE TAKES PLACE
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and the Rev. Raphael Warnock faced off in their first, and possibly only, one-on-one debate Sunday night at the Atlanta Press Club, trading barbed attacks in their fight for the right to represent Georgia in the Senate for the next two years. Over the course of the hourlong debate, Loeffler referred more than a dozen times to the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church as “radical, liberal Raphael Warnock,” and she warned that U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Washington Democrats want to use the Georgia Senate seat to ram liberal policies through Congress. “The Democrats want to fundamentally change America,” the Republican said. “And the agent of change is my opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock.”. She also refused multiple times to answer whether President Donald Trump had lost the 2020 election, including Georgia.
FL-MAN MISSING AFTER FALLING OVER BOARD DURING DINNER CRUISE
The U.S. Coast Guard says a man went missing after falling into the water from a dinner-cruise ship in the Gulf Coast in Florida. The agency said Saturday that Joel Henderson, 37, was not wearing a lifejacket when he fell from the Capt. J.P. boat. The company J.C. Cruises says Capt J.P. is a 475-passenger paddlewheel boat that tours the scenic Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, Florida. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday. Coast Guard crews searched for more than 11 hours in the waters before suspending the search.
BIG CITY WEEKEND VIOLENCE
It was a deadly weekend for big cities across the US, as gun violence continues to plague the streets of Chicago, NY and Philadelphia. In Chicago, at least 37 people were shot, 5 fatally, on a weekend that saw hundreds of people descend on the downtown area, fighting and looting stores. A surge in shootings in Philadelphia has left more than 20 juveniles dead in 2020 – that’s almost double compared to last year. And in the first 11 months of 2020, shootings in New York City have surged to levels unseen in years, according to the NYPD, with murders up 38 percent -- by far the largest spike in decades— and shootings up 95%, causing some in the city to call the plague of shootings NYC’s “other 2020 pandemic.”
AFGHANISTAN US TROOPS DRAWDOWN / KABUL
Fox News continues coverage from Kabul as the US prepares to draw troops down. FNC has filmed at checkpoints outside the city, that come under regular attack from the Taliban. FNC has interviewed former president Hamid Karzai and the former Taliban minister of vice and virtue. FNC also spoke to young Afghans at a bowling alley. Almost all believe it's time for the United States to leave... including those who hail everything the US did for Afghanistan and the freedoms that they brought. They say that it is time for Afghanistan to stand on its own two feet. But there are serious concerns about how it does that and what lies ahead. Afghans have high hopes for the peace talks, though few believe the Taliban are negotiating in good faith.
CHRISTMAS TREE PRICE SURGE
Christmas tree sellers are reporting a busy season as more people look to add cheer to a gloomy year fraught by the pandemic. Traffic and sales at Christmas tree farms took off earlier than usual and continue to accelerate through the early weeks of Dec. Tree sales are up 29% compared to last year, and people are getting larger, fresh-cut Evergreen trees and buying more home decorations, according to an Evercore ISI survey. The high demand is also sending tree prices up, with the median price for real trees sold this year jumping to $81, up 7% from last year and 23% from 2018.
SHIFT IN 401(k) STRATEGY
With a COVID vaccine on the horizon and the Dow hovering around 30,000, more companies are announcing they've restarted 401(k) contributions or will start to do so at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, Pres-elect Biden is eyeing changes to the system that could come with the new admin. Biden supports ending upfront tax breaks for contributing to traditional 401(k) plans and replace them with flat-tax credits. The Pres-elect is also looking to end tax breaks for people in higher-brackets, who typically have more money to invest. We look at how you should be changing your retirement strategy as stocks bounce back and Biden's team gets set to make changes.
MAKE OR BREAK FOR BREXIT
Top Brexit negotiators are holding out for hope a trade deal, even U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Chief Ursula Von Der Leyen are failing to break deadlock. If Brexit negotiators fail to reach an agreement by year's end, it would force a "hard Brexit" which would lead the EU with no deal or trade agreement in place and force the U.K. and the EU to trade under the terms of World Trade Organization, which has higher tariffs. If no agreement is reached, it would be a hammer blow for businesses and consumers on both sides.
Deal or no deal, what does all this mean for the future of U.S. trade with Europe and Great Britain?