The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Saturday, December 19th, 2020

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

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“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." - C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

THE CONSERVATIVE CALENDAR

Forecast at The KIVA: High 46 Degrees at 4pm (Will feel like 38) Low 26 Degrees at 7am (Will feel like 23). Winds get to 16MPH at MPH at 9:00pm. Sunny and Clear. *Weather is from the KIVA Weather Station.

Today is Saturday, Dec. 19, the 354th day of 2020. There are 12 days left in the year.

In 1777, during the American Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to camp for the winter.

In 1843, "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.

In 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.

In 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States in the U.S. Senate chamber by Chief Justice Warren Burger with President Gerald R. Ford looking on.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was subsequently acquitted by the Senate).

In 2008, citing imminent danger to the national economy, President George W. Bush ordered an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry.

In 2019, Congress headed home for the holidays without a plan or timeline in place for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate; Republicans resisted Democratic demands for new witness testimony. The evangelical Christian magazine Christianity Today said in an editorial that President Donald Trump should be removed from office; the editorial urged believers not to "continue to brush off Mr. Trump's immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency."

UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS

Rio Rancho Rally
Saturday Dec 19, Noon
"Say NO to Bread Lines"
901 Unser Blvd SE

Las Cruces/ Freedom Christmas Ride & Protest
Saturday 12/19/2020 - Staging 10am - Onate HS - 5700 Mesa Grande Dr
Ride starts @ 11am - Protest 12noon - Young Park - 850 S Walnut St.

TOP 10 VIDEOS OF THE DAY

  1. Mayor Bill de Blasio: ‘Our Mission Is to Redistribute Wealth’

  2. Swalwell Dodges Reporter: Do You Plan on Stepping Down? Resigning?

  3. Rep. Debbie Dingell: Rep. Swalwell and the Chinese Spy Were Not ‘in a Deep Relationship’

  4. Ari Fleischer: Hunter Biden Investigation Is ‘Legitimate’

  5. Bernie Sanders: ‘We Have Got to Respond to the Needs of Working Families’

  6. Michael Flynn on Russian Cyberattack: ‘SolarWinds Is an Entry Point into the Rest of Our Entire U.S. Critical Infrastructure’

  7. CNN: Joe and Jill Biden to Get Covid Vaccine on Monday

  8. Tucker Carlson Defends Telling People They Should Be ‘Nervous’ About Vaccine Rollout

  9. Fox News: NYC Restaurant Owners Protest Cuomo’s Indoor Dining Coronavirus Shutdown Order

  10. Sen. Blackburn: The Left Diminishes Conservative Women

TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY

  1. Landlords, tenants feel impact of state eviction moratorium

  2. New Mexico education secretary touts push for web access

  3. Chaves County Sheriff’s deputies go maskless at holiday toy drive

  4. Is Covid a High Risk to Younger Adults?

  5. Corporate Media Are Ignoring Trump's Role In The COVID Vaccine

  6. Public Schools Are Losing Their Captive Audience of Children

  7. Coca-Cola set to cut more than 2,000 jobs including 1,200 in US

  8. The Russian 'Cyber Pearl Harbor' That Wasn't

  9. The Presidency Is Interested in You

  10. Ghislaine Maxwell doesn't deserve bail: feds

MORNING LOCAL NEWS BRIEFING

New Mexico reports 1,442 more COVID-19 cases, 27 deaths

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico on Saturday reported 1,442 additional known COVID-19 cases and 27 additional deaths. The statewide totals increased to 128,930 cases and 2,155 as seven-day rolling averages for daily new cases dropped and daily deaths rose over the last two weeks. According to data from Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project, the rolling average of daily new cases dropped from 1,869 on Dec. 4 to 1,542.1 on Friday while the rolling average of deaths rose from 28.9 to 34.1. A pandemic-high 48 daily deaths were reported Thursday as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said daily deaths could grow even higher over the year-end holidays.

Report: New Mexico needs plan to address high suicide rate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico has a suicide rate 1.5 times that of the national average, and legislative analysts say a new plan is needed to address the many causes. Analysts with the Legislative Finance Committee released their findings this week, saying the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues and suicide rates are likely to increase. The state is projecting a 20% increase in behavioral health needs. New Mexico has yet to develop a statewide suicide prevention plan, but the analysts are recommending that the state as part of that work establish a goal to reduce suicides by 10% in five years. 

Prosecutor lacked active law license; cases being reviewed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — District attorney and public defender offices are reviewing cases handled by a metro Albuquerque prosecutor who wasn't properly licensed to practice law in New Mexico. District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Brandale Mills Cox said the New Mexico State Bar notified the office on Dec. 8 that a clerical error occurred after Brian Jeffries applied to both reinstate his inactive New Mexico law license and to obtain a limited license available to prosecutors licensed in another state. Mills Cox told the Albuquerque Journal that Jeffries has resigned and that only nine cases could be substantively affected by the licensing problem. However, public defender Jennifer Barela said dozens of cases could be affected. 

Resort project near Navajo Nation stirs culture controversy

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A large campground resort project proposed for a northern Arizona high desert site near the Navajo Nation is stalled amid objections centering on cultural sensitivity and teepees. The planned inclusion of wagons and teepees, the tents that weren't typically used by Indigenous people of the Southwest, drew criticism when the Coconino County Board of Supervisors considered a rezoning request and development plan for the project. The Arizona Daily Sun reports that the board concluded hours of discussion and presentations by delaying a vote on whether to approve the Two Guns Resort project. The board delayed a vote pending further possible changes to the project.

New Mexico tosses 75 vaccine doses over temperature issues

SANTA FE, N.M. — Health officials in New Mexico say the state has discarded a 75-dose shipment of the new COVID-19 vaccine this week after a digital device showed it overheated during transportation to a hospital. Amid vaccination efforts, state health officials on Friday reported 1,463 new daily cases of COVID-19 statewide and 31 related deaths. The Albuquerque Journal reported that a temperature-tracking device may have malfunctioned, but state officials threw out the doses to be safe. The problem appears to be isolated. Pfizer had already delivered the doses to New Mexico, and temperature problems arose during transportation from a state Department of Health warehouse to Union County General Hospital in Clayton. Officials say a new shipment was sent Wednesday to the hospital.

Navajo Nation reports 175 new COVID-19 cases, 10 new deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 175 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new virus-related deaths. The tribe has now reported more than 20,000 coronavirus cases resulting in 742 deaths since the pandemic began. Friday's new statistics come as the vast reservation enters the latest in a string of weekend-long lockdowns designed to limit activity that can spread the virus. The Navajo Nation remains in a three-week lockdown requiring residents to remain home at all times. Only essential workers reporting to work and those going for food or other vital items are allowed to travel. The nation's roads remained closed to visitors.   

Judge dismisses one of New Mexico's education lawsuits

SANTA FE, N.M. — A U.S. district judge in Santa Fe has dismissed one of the education lawsuits that have sprung up against the state or intensified during the coronavirus pandemic. At one point in the lawsuit, the judge ordered state education officials to intervene in the case of a 13-year-old girl with special needs in Hobbs and figure out why here school wasn't providing all of the services called for in her learning plan. The state faces other lawsuits, including one from school boards and administrators over what they describe as state overreach.

New Mexico makes employment gains amid virus restrictions

SANTA FE, N.M. — Labors officials say local governments have shed thousands of jobs in New Mexico amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Workforce Solutions on Friday announced that the overall statewide unemployment rate has fallen to 7.5% in November, down from 8.1% in October. Payroll employment is down by 58,300 jobs since November 2019, excluding agriculture. Most employment losses are in the hospitality and petroleum sectors. But local government also reduced employment by 6,500 jobs, mostly in public education. An emergency health order continues to require face masks, ban gatherings of more than five people and forbids indoor dining at restaurants.

US AND GLOBAL NEWS BRIEFING

The Latest: Texas virus death toll rises above 25,000

HOUSTON — Texas on Saturday surpassed 25,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, the second-highest total in the country.

State health officials reported 272 new deaths due to COVID-19, bringing Texas' death toll to 25,226.

Cases of COVID-19 and virus-related hospitalizations continue to rise in the state. On Saturday, the state reported 9,796 people hospitalized with the virus, an increase of nearly 23% over the last month.

Officials reported 12,914 new cases on Saturday. That comes two days after the state set its one-day record of new cases — 16,864 — on Thursday.

The increase in cases and hospitalizations comes as state health officials announced Friday that Texas will receive 620,000 more doses of COVID-19 vaccines over the next week. More than 224,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been delivered in Texas.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

The United States reached a record of nearly a quarter million coronavirus cases reported in 24 hours. An additional 2,814 people died nationwide, pushing the death toll to more than 313,000. Some areas of California are "just right at that cusp of getting overrun," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.

The Army general in charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines out across the U.S. apologized for "miscommunication" with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages.

___

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico on Saturday reported 1,442 additional known COVID-19 cases and 27 additional deaths.

The statewide totals increased to 128,930 cases and 2,155 as seven-day rolling averages for daily new cases dropped and daily deaths rose over the last two weeks.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project, the rolling average of daily new cases dropped from 1,869 on Dec. 4 to 1,542.1 on Friday while the rolling average of deaths rose from 28.9 to 34.1.

A pandemic-high 48 daily deaths were reported Thursday as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said daily deaths could grow even higher over the year-end holidays.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be about 140 miles shorter than normal as a result of complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Race officials announced Friday that teams will no longer embark on a 1,000-mile journey to Nome but instead will take a roughly 860-mile loop that starts and ends in Willow.

Every musher must also test negative for the coronavirus before the race begins. They will also be tested again during the race.

Facial coverings and social distancing will be mandated at checkpoints.

The race is scheduled to begin on March 6.

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ATLANTA — U.S. health officials closely tracking possible side effects of the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine say they have seen six cases of severe allergic reaction out of more than a quarter million shots given.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 272,000 shots of the Pfizer vaccine were given nationwide as of Saturday morning. The half-dozen cases of allergic reaction were reported as of Friday night, and included one person with a history of vaccination reactions.

Health officials are keeping close watch for such side effects.

U.S. vaccine recipients are supposed to hang around after their injections in case signs of an allergy appear. The CDC says all cases occurred within the recommended observation window and were promptly treated.

The numbers were discussed at a meeting of a committee that advises the CDC on vaccines. The group on Saturday endorsed Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, which was granted emergency authorization on Friday.

Less severe side effects have also been rare. Among the first 215,000 people to get vaccinated in the U.S., fewer than 1.5% of them had problems that left them unable to perform their normal activities or required medical care.

Many vaccines can cause temporary discomfort, such as a sore arm or certain flu-like symptoms. COVID-19 vaccines tend to cause more of those reactions than a flu shot, and some hospitals are staggering the times their employees get vaccinated to avoid staffing problems.

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MONROE, La. -- Louisiana's newest member of Congress was admitted to a hospital for monitoring on Saturday, one day after announcing that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Republican Rep.-elect Luke Letlow was admitted as a precaution, spokesman Andrew Bautsch told The News-Star. Bautsch also is fighting the disease, the newspaper said.

Letlow, who is from the northeast Louisiana town of Start, was elected earlier this month to the 5th District seat representing northeast and central Louisiana. He is scheduled to be sworn in next month.

He had announced Friday that he had been infected by the coronavirus and was quarantining at home.

Letlow was the third high-profile Louisiana politician in two days to say he had been infected. Democratic U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is leaving to become a member of President-elect Joe Biden's White House staff, and Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser both said Thursday that they had tested positive for the virus.

Two Republicans in Louisiana's congressional delegation — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson — have publicly said they've recovered from the disease.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The United States added a record of nearly a quarter million coronavirus cases in the past day.

Health experts says the record could increase as cases surge in various parts of the country and health care systems struggle to keep up.

Along with 249,709 new cases, there were an additional 2,814 reported deaths nationwide in the past 24 hours. That pushed the confirmed U.S. death toll past 313,000, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

California led the case surge with 48,221 more infections. Almost 17,000 people are hospitalized in California and health officials are scrambling to find enough beds for patients. Texas, Florida, New York and Tennessee all registered more than 10,400 new cases.

The seven-day rolling average for new cases in the U.S. rose in the past two weeks from 183,787 to 219,324 on Friday, an increase of nearly 20%.

Health officials are concerned about future cases brought on by travel and gatherings during the holidays and New Year's.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State health officials say 2,711 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered so far in Tennessee, the worst state in the country for new cases per capita.

The Tennessee Department of Health on Friday unveiled its online vaccination dashboard, which will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tennessee frontline hospital health care workers on Thursday began receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

There were 1,640 new cases per 100,000 people in Tennessee in the past two weeks, which ranks first in the nation, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths rose from 50 on Dec. 4 to 74 on Friday.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has declined to require a mask order. Only a dozen other states lack a statewide mask requirement.

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PHOENIX – Arizona residents are being told to "shrink their circles" of personal contacts and gatherings to help the state's health care system handle coronavirus cases.

Arizona reported a record 4,104 COVID-19 related hospitalizations. It also added more than 5,500 coronavirus cases on Friday.

State and local governments need to do more to reduce the coronavirus' spread, because one of Banner Health's hospitals is using a refrigerated truck trailer to augment its now full morgue, says Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the hospital chain's chief clinical officer.

Only 8% of all beds and intensive care unit beds were available, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard.

The Department of Health Services reported 118 more deaths, increasing the statewide totals to 448,231 confirmed cases and 7,937 confirmed deaths.

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WASHINGTON — With coronavirus numbers setting new daily records, the nation's capital is temporarily suspending all indoor dining in restaurants over the holidays.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an executive order Friday night banning indoor dining for three weeks, starting Wednesday at 10 p.m. and extending through Jan. 15.

The District of Columbia will remain in phase two of its reopening plan, and the government described the move as a "holiday pause."

The order also extends Washington's public health emergency through March 31 and orders all museums to close. The entire Smithsonian network of museums, which includes the National Zoo, already shut down voluntarily in late November.

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WASHINGTON — An Army general in charge of COVID-19 vaccines apologized Saturday for "miscommunication" with states on the number of early doses delivered.

Gen. Gustave Perna's remarks came a day after a second vaccine was added in the fight against the coronavirus. Governors in more than a dozen states says the federal government has told them next week's shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be less than originally projected.

"I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication," he said. "I know that's not done much these days. But I am responsible. ... This is a herculean effort and we are not perfect."

Perna says the government now is on track to get approximately 20 million doses to states by the first week of January, a combination of the newly approved Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He says 2.9 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses have been delivered so far.

The coronavirus has killed more than 313,000 people in the U.S., the highest death toll in the world.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Christmas gatherings can't go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England.

Johnson announced the capital and other areas in southern England currently under Tier 3 will move to a stricter Tier 4 that requires non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor leisure venues to close after the end of business hours Saturday.

Johnson says a planned five-day easing of socializing rules allowing up to three households to meet in "Christmas bubbles" will be canceled for Tier 4 areas. No mixing of households will be allowed except under limited conditions outside in public places.

For the rest of England, people can meet in Christmas bubbles for just one day instead of Dec. 23-27.

U.K. officials reported another 28,507 confirmed cases on Friday and 489 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

The U.K. has reported 1.9 million coronavirus cases. It has Europe's second-highest confirmed COVID-19 death toll at 66,600 and sixth-highest overall.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An Associated Press analysis shows states spent more than $7 billion this spring buying personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators.

California spent the most during the pandemic's initial months, at least $1.5 billion in the AP's data, followed by Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington. New York also spent several hundred million dollars on PPE and ventilators through November.

The data was obtained from states through open-records requests. State governments were scrambling for supplies at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Some states paid as much as $11 for individual N95 masks, which previously cost around 50 cents before the pandemic.

Supplies often went to the highest bidder, even if they'd already been promised to someone else. States set up their own fraud tests, rejecting masks that failed to meet safety specifications or lacked medical labeling.

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BERLIN — Switzerland has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech.

The country's health agency says the vaccine had been approved for the small Alpine country after a careful examination by expert teams. The agency did not say when vaccinations in Switzerland would begin.

The approval comes shortly after Britain, Canada, the United States and other countries allowed the use of the vaccine in their respective countries.

The director of Swissmedic said "Thanks to the rolling process and our flexible teams we could quickly decide and fully accommodate the three most important requirements security, efficacy and quality."

Raimund Bruhin added that, "The safety of the patients is a required condition especially regarding the approval of vaccines."

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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have agreed to a $465 million pandemic spending plan, including relief payments to businesses and workers struggling to stay afloat because of the coronavirus and government restrictions to curb its spread.

The legislation received overwhelming Senate support late Friday and is expected to win House passage on Monday before legislators adjourn for the year. Nearly half of the funding would be used to continue, through March, a maximum 26 weeks of unemployment benefits in a year instead of 20 weeks.

The bill would provide $45 million in assistance to employees who have been laid off or seen their hours cut due to restrictions under a state health department order that has prohibited indoor restaurant dining and closed entertainment venues. A worker could get up to $1,650.

Small businesses affected by the recent orders would receive $55 million in grants — up to $20,000 if they had to close, $15,000 if they partially closed. Certain concert and other live-entertainment sites could qualify for $40,000 as part of a separate $3.5 million grant program.

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BOSTON -- Massachusetts expects to receive 20% fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this year after the federal government reduced its allotment, state officials say.

The state joins more than a dozen others that have been told their vaccine shipments will be smaller than planned in coming weeks. Instead of receiving 180,000, Massachusetts now expects to get 145,000.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he hasn't received an explanation for the cutback.

"We're certainly frustrated," Baker said at a COVID-19 briefing on Friday. "We're working to get clarity on what this means, what happened and how that bump will be dealt with along the way."

Baker said he expects to get more answers during a call with federal officials next week. Despite the reduced allotment, Baker said he expects the state to have "more than enough" doses in the first months of 2021.

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NEWARK — New Jersey will start to vaccinate its nursing homes a week later than other states because the state missed a deadline by a day with Operation Warp Speed, the state's top heath official said Friday.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the "sheer volume" of information required for over 650 facilities led the state to miss a Dec. 7 deadline. That means New Jersey won't begin vaccinations at its long-term care centers until Dec. 28, she said.

New Jersey's COVID-19 outbreak has ravaged nursing homes, with 7,430 deaths, including residents and staff. That's about 46% of the overall death toll in the state.

‘ROCK OF TALK’ DEBATE OF THE DAY

Five staff members have walked off Mission Impossible. This comes after Tom Cruise had not one, but two meltdowns this week over what he sees as a lackadaisical approach to basic COVID protocols on set. 

His rant made news earlier this week, and now, sources tell The Sun that the set is still tense. “The first outburst was big but things haven’t calmed since. Tension has been building for months and this was the final straw. Since it became public there has been more anger and several staff have walked.

“But Tom just can’t take any more after all the lengths they have gone to just to keep filming at all. He’s upset others aren’t taking it as seriously as him. In the end, he’s the one who carries the can.”

Cruise has gone to extraordinary measures to make the set safe. As a producer of the seventh installment, he has helped set up a cruise ship allowing staff to isolate.

But many on social media and in Hollywood see is point. George Clooney and Whoopi Goldberg are among the bold-faced names saying he is absolutely right, even if they wouldn’t have addressed the issue in the same way. Others were less sympathetic. Longtime critics Leah Remini wrote on her blog: "Tom does not care about the families of his crew; this is all for publicity. Tom does not believe in family values.”

But TMZ dug up photos of Cruise on set of Mission Impossible where Cruise himself isn’t following protocol. He’s shown chatting with Hayley Atwell at a shoot in Rome, and while the pair are wearing masks, hers is below her nose. In another, he is seen maskless while she is again wearing the mask under her nose. 

  • Would you walk if your boss screamed at you?

  • Do you think Tom Cruise has a point?

  • Have you had any public COVID-related meltdowns?