The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Friday, December 4th, 2020
The Top 10 Links of the Day, Conservative Snapshot and Morning Local News Briefing
Bhakdi described as "utter nonsense" Dr. Anthony Fauci's claim earlier Wednesday during a live interview on The Story with Martha MacCallum on the Fox News Channel that 75% of Americans would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to achieve herd immunity. Bhakdi added, "Someone who says this has not the slightest inkling of the basics of immunology."
In response to Ingraham's final question, "So you think the COVID-19 vaccine is unnecessary?" Bhakdi replied: "I think it's downright dangerous. And I warn you, if you go along these lines, you are going to go to your doom"(emphasis added).
Top 10 Stories of the Day
New Mexico News Snapshot
New Mexico research group adds ExxonMobil as sponsor
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A research group focused on the potential for reusing wastewater produced during oil and gas operations is getting some support from ExxonMobil. New Mexico State University announced this week that the company has been added as a sponsor. University Chancellor Dan Arvizu said research sponsors are critical to advancing new and innovative technologies necessary for New Mexico to ensure that produced water can be safely used for applications outside of the oil and gas industry. As a member of the consortium, ExxonMobil engineers and scientists will participate in the consortium’s research and engineering working groups and projects.
New Mexico sets priorities for who gets first vaccine doses
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s initial batch of 17,500 vaccine doses from drug maker Pfizer is slated to go to medical facilities and long-term care centers with an emphasis on people within those facilities who have high or medium exposure to the virus. The state on Thursday also set a new record for the number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single day at 44. The state’s plan for vaccine distribution hews closely to nonbinding guidelines adopted this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.New Mexico’s lieutenant governor wants educators to be be among the first people to get vaccine access.
New Mexico governor to lead Democratic governors group
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been selected as the new chair of the Democratic Governors Association for 2021. The first-term governor previously served as the group's vice chair and was among those seen as possible candidates for the U.S. Cabinet post of health and human services secretary in the Biden administration. The vote by the nation's Democratic governors came Thursday during the group's annual meeting. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will serve as vice chair. Outgoing chair New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was picked to serve as the group's finance chair.
New Mexico lawmakers consider slimmer child welfare budgets
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico's child welfare agencies are presenting their budget requests to state lawmakers. From emergency internet access and welfare checks to a strained child care system, the needs of children and parents have increased due to the pandemic. But state revenues are down and agencies are trimming budgets by 5% for the next fiscal year that starts in July 2021. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department oversees childcare and prekindergarten programs. It's asking for just over $400 million. The Children, Youth, and Families Department requested over $200 million to continue work to protect children from abuse and neglect.
Medical officials serving Navajo make urgent plea: Stay home
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Medical professionals serving the Navajo Nation made an urgent plea to residents Thursday to stay home as coronavirus cases rise. The numbers are testing the limits of health care on the vast reservation that already is scrambling to find places to transport critically ill patients. The tribe is seeing more cases daily now than it did in the spring when it was a national hotspot. The difference now is that cases are rising in all the states that border the reservation, and the tribe no longer can draw on the resources it once did. Indian Health Service officials say the agency is at serious risk of running out of hospital beds, nurses and supplies.
Ruling: Threat to get warrant can make searches involuntary
SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico Supreme Court decision says a person’s consent to a search wasn’t voluntary if a law enforcement officer threatens to obtain a search warrant but lacks probable cause to get a judge to issue a warrant. The decision Thursday in a man’s drug case says that the trial judge should not have allowed marijuana and methamphetamine handed over during the search to be used as evidence because the search was coerced and involuntary. The unanimous decision said consent is involuntary when a person believes refusal to consent would be futile. The ruling sends the case back to trial court for further proceedings.
New Mexico to delay winter high school sports until February
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Activities Association’s board of directors has delayed the start of high school sports by four weeks until February as coronavirus cases continue to increase across the state. Association Executive Director Sally Marquez said the board voted Wednesday that Feb. 1 is the latest the association would be able to get all sports played this academic year. The new schedule allows fall sports including football, cross-country, volleyball and soccer to begin preseason workouts on Feb. 1. The decision is dependent on Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who can approve or deny the start dates for activities.
Report: Endangered mouse nears 'zero' in southern New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A report on a rare mouse found only in the U.S. Southwest says the rodent's population in one stretch of southern New Mexico is near zero. Environmentalists are pointing to the study issued in November, saying the U.S. Forest Service needs to do more to protect the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and its stream-side habitat. The Center for Biological Diversity is asking for an investigation, saying hundreds of grazing violations on the Lincoln National Forest have pushed the mouse closer to extinction. Forest officials say the latest study aims to set the stage for long-term habitat planning for the mouse.
Global and US Daily News Snapshot
NEWS OF THE DAY / WILMINGTON
Pres-elect Biden will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days when he takes office, promising that it won't be forever. Biden said in an interview yesterday that he will ask Dr. Fauci to stay on and that he will ask him to be the chief medical adviser. Biden delivers remarks on the final jobs report of 2020 today.
CAPITOL HILL / CONGRESS TO DO LIST + POT BILL
Congress continues to wait to the last-minute regarding reaching deals on govt funding and more COVID relief. Steny Hoyer told House Democrats they wouldn't leave for Christmas break until deals were reached on both. Sen McConnell appears open to a compromise on COVID funding saying a deal is "within reach," but Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Ldr Schumer released a statement saying a recent bipartisan proposal on COVID relief would only be a good starting point to reaching a deal. All this and Congress still needs to pass the NDAA that Pres Trump threatened to veto, but there should be a 2/3 majority in each chamber to override it unless some Republicans get cold feet on crossing Trump. Also, the House will vote on a bill to federally legalize marijuana today, but if it passes, it will go up in smoke in the Senate.
WHAT GA RUNOFFS MEAN FOR COVID STIMULUS
With Senate control on the line in the 2 GA races, Republicans may be warming to the idea of stimulus to win over voters. Senate Majority Ldr McConnell says of a possible stimulus deal "compromise is in reach," as Minority Ldr Schumer says a new bipartisan framework should be used as a basis to negotiate a stimulus deal. At the same time, if the Nov jobs report comes in weak today, it could push Congress to act sooner than later. Ahead of the GA debate this weekend, VP Pence heads to Savannah this afternoon for a rally with Sens Perdue & Loeffler to rally the base 1 day before Pres Trump heads there to campaign. Some political strategists say some GOP voters in GA are feeling like their vote may not even matter. How does the GA race impact stimulus in Congress for the economy?
NEVADA / CARSON CITY
A NV judge continues to consider his ruling in the election contest brought by the Trump campaign seeking to overturn the certified results that Joe Biden won the state by more than 30,000 votes. In arguments before the court yesterday, a Trump campaign lawyer detailed alleged fraud and questionable vote counting by election officials and machinery. A Democratic lawyer poked holes in the Trump case, highlighting that many of the allegations presented to the court come from unnamed witnesses.
BATTLE OVER "BUILD BACK BETTER"
As we get Nov's jobs numbers, there's debate over how to approach the economic recovery. Pres-elect Biden wants to "build back better," but Republicans warn "better" means bigger govt. Biden's economic team is promising to empower unions and target income inequality, but how far are they willing to go to achieve that goal? Biden advisor Jared Bernstein is blasting capitalism, even warning of a capitalist implosion. He says in order to avoid that, we need to reimagine and restructure the govt's role in the economy. This could involve more direct federal aid for businesses as well as a "comprehensive system of social insurance, from cradle to grave." Conservatives are criticizing this approach, saying it will create more hurdles. We look at the debate over what "build back better" looks like.
NJ Gov Murphy says officials are seeing a failure to cooperate with contact tracers, recently warning of drastic action if parents don't start cooperating. But in NY, one father says cooperating led to cyberbullying of their daughter. He tells FOX that after his daughter recently tested positive and followed through with the contact tracers, she received texts from students and parents mad at her for getting sick and putting others at risk. No one else around her tested positive. The father says health officials told him half of the parents they call do not comply.
MORE CA RESTRICTIONS COMING
CA Gov Newsom announced plans for 3 wk long stay at home orders yesterday that are expected to affect the majority of the Golden State over the next week or so as it experiences "a surge on top of a surge." The plan divides the state into 5 regions and triggers restrictions when a region has only 15% ICU capacity available. All but the Bay Area region are projected to be affected "as early as the next day or two, and as late as the next week or so." While not as wide ranging as the so called "lockdowns" in the spring, the rules will limit retail to 20% capacity, close hair salons & bars, and ban in-person dining indoors & out, but will keep beaches, parks, & other outdoor areas open, along with schools that have been cleared to have kids in classrooms.
The once wildly popular cruise industry is still stuck going nowhere. The CDC has eliminated its "no sail" order, imposed this past March when the Coronavirus pandemic was spreading like wildfire in the close quarters of cruise ships. But the estimated cost to the industry is about $35bil, so far, and a quarter million jobs with cascading impacts in the big cruise port cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, & Port Canaveral. While cruises can technically resume sailing now, and there is a huge demand by cruising fanatics, the CDC's 40 pages of regulations and guidelines are so onerous, the cruise lines themselves keep postponing their return to sea.
CHINA EARLY VIRUS MISSTEPS
Throughout Wuhan, China, in January, thousands of people waited in hours-long lines for hospitals, sometimes next to corpses lying in hallways. But most couldn't get the test they needed to be admitted as patients. And for the few who did, the tests were often faulty, resulting in false negatives. The widespread test shortages and problems at a time when the virus could have been slowed were caused largely by secrecy and cronyism at China's top disease control agency. The missteps in January facilitated the virus' spread through Wuhan and across the world undetected, in a pandemic that has now sickened more than 64mil people and killed almost 1.5mil.
COVID BREATHALYZER TEST
Those uncomfortable COVID swab tests could be a thing of the past if a TX company's breathalyzer test is approved. In partnership with Texas A&M and the US Air Force, Dallas-based World's Inc. has a prototype device aimed at instantly diagnosing people with coronavirus by simply blowing through a straw. It's been deployed to hospitals and Air Force bases, and, so far, the company says results suggest it's as accurate as a PCR test. The company is working to get emergency approval from the FDA. We take a look at the "Worlds Protect" device to see how it could change COVID testing forever.
SLOWER VACCINE ROLLOUT
Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, planned to have 100mil doses of its COVID-19 vaccine ready by year's end, but supply chain problems cut that goal in half. The 2-shot vaccine has been approved for emergency-use in the UK and is under FDA approval in the US now, making it a key part of getting both countries' economies back up and running and life back to normal. With an Biden presidency, could this slowed rollout mean more lockdowns?
BACKBONE OF AMERICA ON THE ROPES
Critics of lockdowns are saying tight restrictions have largely been ineffective in containing the virus, yet the economic toll is piling up. Limited foot traffic and lockdowns are taking more businesses under, as nearly 164,000 businesses have had to close at one point since the beginning of the pandemic, with 60% having to close permanently, according to data from Yelp. The restaurant industry is among the most impacted, with 61% of permanent closures since Aug. Some are now fighting back, defying state & local mandates by staying open. Restaurants in IL, NY, & TX are telling us that if they don't stay open, they will close for good.
TWO US MARSHALS SHOT IN THE BRONX
At least two U.S. Marshals and a suspect have been shot in the Bronx early Monday, police said. The New York Police Department said the shooting happened about 5:30 a.m. Friday and they didn't immediately have information about the conditions of those shot. Two or three Marshals were injured, the department said. Media reports described the Marshals' injuries as non-life threatening. The police department's public information office referred a request for additional information by The Associated Press to the U.S. Marshals Service. No one was immediately available to comment at the Marshals' office in New York City.
TIME MAGAZINE NAMES FIRST "KID OF THE YEAR"
Time magazine selected 15-year-old Gitanjali Rao of Lone Tree as the first Kid of the Year. At 13 years old, Gitanjali was awarded the Top “Health” Pillar Prize for the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge. Her project was titled “Early Diagnosis of Opioid Addiction.” The award is not Gitanjali’s first. She gives presentations all over the world and was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 for a device that detects lead in drinking water. Inspired by the water contamination problem in Flint, Michigan, she invented the device to help people in Flint and other areas. Kindly, an app and Chrome extension, is based on artificial-intelligence technology to detect cyberbullying early, was developed by Rao. A blog partnership with UNICEF to raise awareness, organize and create events to spread kindness is also part of the app.
GA OFFICIALS LOOKING INTO FLORIDA MAN REGISTERING TO VOTE IN GEORGIA SPECIAL ELECTION
A Florida lawyer is being investigated for trying to illegally register to vote in the Georgia runoff election and encouraging others to do the same, according to a local report. Bill Price, of Panama City, allegedly filled out paperwork to vote in Paulding County, GA using his brother’s address there — and swore in an affidavit that he was a Peach State resident, election officials told WSB-TV. “We clearly know that he is not [eligible to vote in Georgia],” Deidre Holden, Paulding County’s election supervisor, told the station. The matter came to light after video emerged showing Price telling members of Florida’s Bay County Republican Party to temporarily change their addresses to Georgia in order to vote for the GOP Senate candidates there on Jan 5. Moving to Georgia temporarily just to vote is a crime in the state, is publishable by up to 10 years in jail or a fine of up $100,000.
NEARLY 30 PEOPLE RESCUED FROM HUMAN SMUGGLING RING
Dozens of people were rescued on Thursday night from a Houston home that police said is the site of a human smuggling operation. Police said they were alerted to the situation after a man escaped from the home in his underwear yelling that he had been kidnapped. Twenty five men and a woman were discovered by authorities at the location, according to the Houston Police Department. The department said the Department of Homeland Security is investigating the operation.
TO DEAD BODIES FOUND AT FORT BRAGG
Two men were found dead Wednesday afternoon in the training area of Fort Bragg, N.C., according to base officials. However, base officials did not say how the men were affiliated with the Army base, though they noted the deaths were not related to official unit training, according to a news release. Army Criminal Investigation Command is investigating. “No further information is available at this time due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation and the pending notification of next of kin,” the release states. Fort Bragg, located near Fayetteville, supports about 50,377 active-duty personnel, according to information from the Army. Data released in September stated 31 soldiers assigned to the base have died this year, with nearly half of those soldiers dying by suicide.
COURT REFUSES TO HEAR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ELECTION LAWSUIT
A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts. In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged. The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.
CA-GOV. NEWSOM TO ISSUE NEW COVID RESTRICTIONS AS VIRUS NUMBERS RISE
California, the first state to impose far-reaching lockdowns because of the coronavirus, announced on Thursday its strictest new measures since the earliest days of the pandemic in an effort to keep a surge in cases from overwhelming hospitals. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the new round of regional stay-at-home orders would take effect as intensive-care beds filled up. Millions of people across Southern and Central California are likely to see outdoor dining shuttered, playgrounds roped off and hair salons closed within days if the available intensive-care capacity in their areas dips below a 15 percent threshold. The new restrictions will last for at least three weeks, strictly limit store capacity and allow restaurants to serve only takeout or delivery. The governor also said people should temporarily call off all nonessential travel.
CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO REOPEN IN JANUARY
Chicago Public Schools will reopen in January even if only a small fraction of students opt to return to classrooms, schools CEO Janice Jackson said Thursday, and she warned that teachers without pre-existing conditions who simply “don’t show up” to school buildings will be fired. What’s more, schools officials are so convinced that reopening schools is safe, they’re now working on a plan to bring back at least some high schools during the second semester. The district had expected to keep older students home while elementary schools return Feb. 1 and special education programs come back next month. Parents of elementary and middle school students have until Monday to decide whether their kids will return to the classroom or continue remote learning. Those who choose remote learning will not get another opportunity to send their children back to schools until April.
PIGS CAN NO LONGER FLY (IN CABIN)
The US Dept of Transportation has issued a new rule that allows airlines to limit animals in plane cabins to dogs that have been certified as service animals for the disabled. Carriers will now be able to force so-called "emotional support animals" to the baggage hold if owners want to bring their cats, pigs, monkeys, squirrels, & peacocks along when they fly.
Police are still not releasing any info on the investigation into the death of social media influencer Alexis Sharkey, whose body was found naked and with no visible wounds along a Houston highway last Saturday. Authorities say they are awaiting an autopsy and have not named any persons of interest or possible causes of death at this time, but both her mother and her friends suspect foul play was involved; her friends saying they believe the 26-yr-old influencer was "worried for her safety." Sharkey's husband has reported receiving death threats, and describes their marriage as "happy and solid." A vigil to celebrate her life had been planned for last night, but it was postponed.
THE RISE OF THE CHIEF REMOTE OFFICER
Chief Remote Officer, or Head of Remote Work, is a new role within the corporate hierarchy, but one that makes sense given the likely stickiness of the pandemic-inspired work-from-home trend. Facebook, Quora, GitLab, & AngelList have all created such positions, while Slack & Twitter have given senior employees the unofficial role temporarily. Corporate America asked millions of employees to start working from home 9 months ago, with little to no direction or support. While those employees proved they could be productive at home, their managers now need to learn how to create policies that foster both their productivity and new lifestyles, which include benefits for working parents. In Sept alone, 865,000 women left the workforce (and 2.2mil since March).
FURNITURE SHORTAGE BOOSTS FURNISHED HOME SALES
The pandemic-induced furniture shortage is driving demand for furnished homes. When lockdowns forced Americans to spend more time at home, many used it as an opportunity to redecorate, fueling the online hunt for house decor and stretching furniture supply chains thin. Real-estate companies say that they are selling and renting more decked-out units than they previously had, with some companies reporting that the demand has nearly doubled during the pandemic for both long and short-term leases. Turn-key living has taken off in the tri-state area where many people are looking for secondary homes as they take advantage of record low mortgage rates.
CHINA / REAX TO VISA RESTRICTIONS
China is accusing critics in the U.S. government of "an escalation of political suppression" against Beijing following new visa restrictions on members of China's ruling Communist Party and their immediate family members. A foreign ministry spokesperson says China will "make representations" to the U.S. over its decision to limit such people to one-month, single-entry visas. The spokesperson calls Washington's approach "totally inconsistent with the U.S.'s own interests," and says it would damage America's global image. The State Department said in a statement Thursday that the new restrictions are intended to protect the U.S. from what it called the Chinese Communist Party's "malign influence."
QATAR / KHALILZAD AT AFGHANISTAN NEGOTIATIONS
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will be in Doha, where the Afghanistan government is holding peace talks with the Taliban. Negotiators finally agreed on procedural rules for the talks on Wednesday.
COLOMBIA / PREHISTORIC PAINTINGS
Thousands of prehistoric rock paintings have been discovered by a team of archaeologists deep in the Amazon rainforest in Colombia. The paintings on a rock cliff, showing humans, animals, shapes and other images, are as much as 12,600 years old. They were found in the La Lindosa mountains, an area that was under the control of Colombia's FARC guerrillas until a 2016 peace agreement.