The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
The Conservative Calendar, Special Video 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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“Politics is more dangerous than war, for in war, you are only killed once. -Winston Churchill
THE CONSERVATIVE CALENDAR
Forecast at The KIVA: High 56 Degrees at 4pm (Will feel like 53) Low 27 Degrees at 7am (Will feel like 22). Winds get to 10MPH at 8:00pm. Sunny and Clear. *Weather is from the KIVA Weather Station.
Today is Tuesday, Dec. 22, the 357th day of 2020. There are nine days left in the year.
In 1940, author Nathanael West, 37, and his wife, Eileen McKenney, 27, were killed in a car crash in El Centro, Calif. while en route to the funeral of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had died the day before.
In 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Washington for a wartime conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing "Nuts!" in his official reply.
In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last of Eastern Europe's hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising.
In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)
In 2003, a federal judge ruled the Pentagon couldn't enforce mandatory anthrax vaccinations for military personnel.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America's military, repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Today's Birthdays: Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 77. Former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 75. Rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell is 60. Actor Ralph Fiennes is 58. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is 50.
0800MST -- HHS Secy Azar, NIH Dir Collins, and NIAID Dir Fauci receive their COVID-19 vaccinations alongside several NIH Clinical Center front-line workers. NIH Clinical Center Masur Auditorium, Bethesda, MD.
1000MST -- VPOTUS makes remarks at Turning Point USA's Student Action Summit. West Palm Beach, FL.
UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS
The Rock of Talk at 4pm on ABQ.FM / AM 1600 KIVA or anywhere at www.rockoftalk.com
SPECIAL VIDEO: ‘YOU’RE A MEAN ONE, LUJAN GRINCH’
TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY
MORNING LOCAL NEWS BRIEFING
Premium oil and gas tracts in short supply in New Mexico
SANTA FE, N.M. — The State Land Office says there are fewer premium tracts available for leasing by oil and gas developers on trust land, particularly in the Permian Basin. The agency said Monday that's having an effect on revenues. Lease sales netted nearly $17 million for the year, marking a decrease of nearly 68% when compared to 2019. The sale completed earlier this month brought in more than $2.3 million for 2,880 acres. Despite the historic drop in prices earlier this year and the economic fallout stemming from the pandemic, industry officials say production in the Permian Basin has remained stable.
New Mexico State University grows brand with official coffee
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico State University is growing its brand with a new coffee. Named after the desert peak that looms over the Las Cruces campus, "A" Mountain Roast adds to the school's collection of collegiate-licensed products. NMSU already has an official beer, wine and whiskey. The school announced the new coffee and its partnership with California-based Estas Manos Coffee Roasters on Monday. A portion of the proceeds will support more than 400 student athletes. School officials say the coffee will be available online, at Estas Manos popup locations and at other Las Cruces retailers beginning Tuesday.
More shipments of COVID-19 vaccine arrive in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Officials with some of New Mexico's major hospitals say they expect to finish giving their employees the COVID-19 vaccine in the next two to three weeks as more doses arrive. Thousands of front-line health care workers have already received their shots. Like other states, New Mexico learned last week it would be getting about one-third fewer doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech. The initial shipments of the second vaccine, by Moderna, began arriving Monday. Those will be funneled to long-term care facilities and nursing homes. New Mexico reported 826 additional COVID-19 cases Monday, one of the lowest daily totals since the beginning of November.
Oil and gas deliver revenues to New Mexico despite pandemic
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Oil and gas development infused $2.8 billion into New Mexico coffers during the 2020 fiscal year despite a global price war and plummeting demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association on Monday released a report on the industry's economic impact. It shows that record production helped push revenues to their second-highest total ever reported. The industry group says oil and gas revenues accounted for one-third of total state spending. Much of that went toward education. Federal mineral leasing was the single largest source of oil and gas revenue for the state at more than $800 million.
Man pleads guilty to killing wife, leads police to remains
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida man has been convicted of killing his estranged wife, who went missing earlier this year. The Palm Beach Post reports 44-year-old David Anthony pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and kidnapping. His plea agreement calls for 38 years in prison. As part of the deal with prosecutors, Anthony had to tell authorities where he dumped his wife's remains after killing her in March. Later Monday, investigators found the remains of what they believe are Gretchen Anthony about 3 miles from her Jupiter home. Officials say security-camera footage, neighbors' testimonies and other evidence connected David Anthony to his wife's death and disappearance.
Navajo officials urge vigilance over COVID during holidays
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation reported 158 new coronavirus cases on Monday and two more deaths from COVID-19. The latest figures from the Navajo Department of Health bring the total number of cases on the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 21,177. The Navajo Nation has reported 748 deaths since the pandemic hit. Tribal officials are urging residents of the vast reservation to stay vigilant to help stop the spread of the coronavirus amid the holiday season. Navajo President Jonathan Nez says a spike in cases occurred after Thanksgiving. He encouraged people spend Christmas with only the people in their household.
Arizona migrant border deaths on track for record amid heat
DOUGLAS, Ariz. — After a record hot and dry summer, more deaths among border-crossers have been documented in Arizona's desert and mountains. It's a reminder that the most remote paths to enter the U.S. from Mexico can be the deadliest. There were 214 confirmed or suspected migrants whose deaths at the Arizona border were documented from January to November. That's according to the nonprofit Humane Borders that works with the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office to map the recoveries of migrants' bodies. It counted 144 deaths last year. The highest annual number that the project documented was 224 in 2010.
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.
US AND GLOBAL NEWS BRIEFING
REALITY CHECK: WILL STIMULUS BRING RELIEF?
Americans who made $75,000 or less last year will receive a check from the federal govt of up to $600, with an additional $600 per child. A family of 4 could receive $2,400, but there are doubts that will help families who saw their incomes wiped out during the pandemic. Households that expect employment losses and benefit cuts display weaker responses to the stimulus, according to the Natl Bureau of Economic Research. Also, critics argue that using 2019 tax data as the baseline for eligibility fails to factor in COVID-related layoffs and furloughs, ensuring anyone who made more than $75,000 last year, but lost a job in April and failed to find new work, would be ineligible for this aid. So, will this move the needle for struggling families?
OMNIBUS + COVID RELIEF FINALLY PASSES, NOW BATTLE BEGINS FOR NEXT PACKAGE
After a week of tense negotiations, the House and Senate finally passed a $1.4 trillion spending bill and a $900 billion COVID relief deal. The combined 5593 page bill funds the federal government through September and provides extended unemployment insurance, direct payments, and more PPP funding. Democrats call the COVID relief section a “first step” in giving aid to Americans. Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said they will be back next year for an additional stimulus that would hopefully include aid to state and local governments. But it remains to be seen how likely that will be if Republicans remain control of the Senate after the Georgia Senate runoffs at the start of next year.
GA STUDENT IN CAYMAN JAIL OVER COVID
The family of a GA college student in jail in the Cayman Islands for violating a coronavirus quarantine guideline is asking the White House for help. Skylar Mack and her boyfriend were each given 4-month sentences. Jeanne Mack, the girl's grandmother, says her granddaughter was the first person who has been jailed for such an offense. Originally, the girl and her boyfriend had been sentenced to community service, but an appeals court last week imposed the more severe sentence.
CHURCHES & COVID / CHICAGO
Over the last year, COVID has changed everything from how we shop to how we socialize and, for many people, it's changed the way we worship. With Christmas coming up, churches that would normally be packed with parishioners and full of singing will be very different this year. We take a look at the ways houses of worship are adapting in order to keep members safe while still keeping the spirit of Christmas alive and well.
BUSINESSES BRACE FOR COVID-19 LAWSUITS / NEW YORK
Businesses may have survived the pandemic, but can they survive a lawsuit? Liability protection was left out again by Congress in its latest COVID-19 relief package, and businesses are now concerned that employees or customers will try to sue them if they get sick. One law firm says there are already hundreds of lawsuits nationwide claiming negligence against a business, and the numbers continue to grow. Advocates say small businesses won't survive without liability protection, believing trial lawyers will take advantage of the situation and force cash-strapped businesses to cough up settlement money or pay for expensive lawyers. But could immunity from frivolous lawsuits entice businesses to skimp on employee protections?
CHURCHES & CHARITY: HOW RESTRICTIONS ARE IMPACTING DONATIONS / SCARSDALE
COVID-19 restrictions have limited the gatherings of various religious institutions, forcing them to find new ways to raise donations during the season of giving. In past years, 31% of charitable giving typically happened in the month of December, with churches getting about 27% of their weekly donations on Sundays. Catholic parishes in particular have already seen an average 15% drop in collections from last year, with some seeing decreases as high as 50%. We examine how restrictions are impacting donations and what churches are doing to make up the difference.
-- Europe's medicines regulator yesterday approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, putting the EU on course to start inoculations just after Christmas.
-- Vietnam will conduct human trials of its domestically-developed coronavirus vaccine 'Nano Covax' on 57 volunteers after the govt said it was proven safe for human tests.
BIONTECH CEO SAYING PFIZER VACCINE SHOULD WORK AGAINST UK STRAIN OF CORONAVIRUS
German pharmaceutical company BioNTech is confident that its coronavirus vaccine works against the new UK variant, but further studies are need to be completely sure, its chief executive said Tuesday. The variant, detected mainly in London and the southeast of England in recent weeks, has sparked concern worldwide because of signs that it may spread more easily. While there is no indication it causes more serious illness, numerous countries in Europe and beyond have restricted travel from the UK as a result. “We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant,” CEO Ugur Sahin told a news conference the day after the vaccine was approved for use in the European Union. “But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.” Sahin said that the proteins on the UK variant are 99% the same as on the prevailing strains, and therefore BioNTech has “scientific confidence” that its vaccine will be effective. Should the vaccine need to be adjusted for the new variant the company could do so in about 6 weeks, Sahin said, though regulators might have to approve the changes before the shots can be used.
NY-WEST POINT DEALING WITH CHEATING SCANDAL
More than 70 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were accused of cheating on a math exam, the worst academic scandal since the 1970s at the Army's premier training ground for officers. Fifty-eight cadets admitted cheating on the exam, which was administered remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them have been enrolled in a rehabilitation program and will be on probation for the remainder of their time at the academy. Others resigned, and some face hearings that could result in their expulsion. The scandal strikes at the heart of the academy's reputation for rectitude, espoused by its own moral code, which is literally etched in stone: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said West Point's disciplinary system is effective. “The Honor process is working as expected and cadets will be held accountable for breaking the code," McCarthy said in a statement.
POLL SHOWS PEOPLE LESS FESTIVE THIS YEAR
According to a survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, some Americans are feeling a bit sadder, lonelier and less grateful than last year. Just 22% of Americans say they feel very or extremely festive this year, down from 49% one year ago. Those who do feel festive tend to be those least worried about the virus. About 4 in 10 Americans are still intensely worried that they or a family member will be infected, with roughly three-quarters at least somewhat concerned. The coronavirus vaccine has capped the year with a glimmer of hope, but the poll found only about half of Americans are ready to get vaccinated immediately, with the rest unsure or uninterested. The poll was conducted shortly before the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for emergency use.
TX-HOUSTON COURT TO HEAR DACA CASE
A federal judge in Houston will hear arguments from Texas and eight other states seeking to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which provides limited protections to about 650,000 people. Defending the program is a group of DACA recipients represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. A ruling was not expected during the hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled President Donald Trump’s attempt to end DACA in 2017 was unlawful. A New York judge in December ordered the Trump administration to restore the program as enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2012. But the Houston case directly targets DACA’s original terms, as Texas and the other states argue it violated the Constitution by going around Congress’ authority on immigration laws. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to protect DACA. But a ruling against DACA could limit Biden’s ability to keep the program or something similar in place.
TX-GOV. ABBOTT TO GET COVID VACCINATION PUBLICLY TODAY
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is getting the coronavirus vaccine as the number of patients hospitalized with the virus statewide is back over 10,000 for the first time since July’s peak.
Abbott will receive the vaccine on live television Tuesday at a hospital in the state capital. His office says health officials urged the 63-year-old governor to get the vaccine in order to boost public confidence that the inoculations are safe. Newly confirmed cases and hospitalizations in Texas are soaring tot levels unseen since a deadly summer outbreak. Abbott reiterated last week that he will not order a new round of lockdown measures. The virus is blamed for at least 25,000 deaths in Texas.
CHICAGO "WRONG RAID" LATEST
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced that the Chicago police officers involved in the botched 2019 raid on Anjanette Young’s home have all been assigned to desk duty as the CPD’s watchdog agency investigates. Lightfoot said CPD Supt. David Brown ordered the officers taken off the street as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability continues its inquiry. COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said during the Chicago Police Board meeting last week that she expected the investigation to conclude early next year. Addressing the media a day after she received the resignation of Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner, Lightfoot announced Celia Meza, the mayor’s counsel and senior ethics adviser, would lead the Law Department on an interim basis. The disclosures came the same day the City Council’s Black Caucus called for creating a new committee to inspect and review civil litigation tied to the CPD.
MINNEAPOLIS MAN UNDER ARREST AFTER GOING ON ROBBERY SPREE
A 20-year-old man has been charged in connection to five robberies and one assault within a 70-minute timeframe last month in Minneapolis. According to the criminal complaint, Brandon Lee Rock of St. Paul is facing charges after he robbed or attempted to rob five people and assaulted one of them. The complaint states that at about 7 a.m. on Nov. 27, a man was on the 1300 block of 7th Street SE when Rock and an unidentified juvenile male approached him as he was getting inside his vehicle. Rock was reportedly holding a handgun, which he pointed at the victim while demanding his wallet, cell phone and car keys. The two suspects then told the victim to unlock his phone before the two fled the scene in the victim's car. Officers executed a search warrant at a Minneapolis residence and recovered multiple personal items believed to belong to the victims. Rock was located at the scene and taken into custody.
NEWS OF THE DAY / WILMINGTON
While Pres-elect Biden has yet to pick an Atty Gen for his admin, outgoing Atty Gen Barr has squashed the idea of appointing a special counsel to take over the federal investigation into Hunter Biden's "tax affairs," saying he has "no plan" to do so. Biden is set to deliver remarks in Wilmington today before the holiday, with press in attendance. We will monitor if he is asked about his upcoming pick, after his press secy, Jen Psaki, said earlier this week that the Justice Dept will remain independent in the next admin.
The GA Secy of State is taking action to make sure out-of-state voters do not attempt to cast ballots in GA's upcoming senate races. The Office of the Secy of State has sent letters to 8,000 individuals who indicated they moved out of the state of GA but still requested ballots. "Qualified Georgians and only Georgians are allowed to vote in our elections," Brad Raffensperger said. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff will cast his early vote in Atlanta today, then speak about strengthening historically black colleges. The candidates are in an all-out push to reach their base and get their voters to the polls.
WHO GETS KAMALA'S SEAT?
Democratic interest groups have not been shy when it comes to who they think CA Gov. Newsom should select to finish out VP-elect Harris' Senate term. Hispanics, African-Americans, Women, and members of the gay community all say someone from their respective groups should be the person Newsom appoints. Former SF Mayor Willie Brown, a legend in CA Democratic politics, says it should be a Black woman because "racial minorities should be wise enough to know they should not try to fill each other's vacancies." We report on the identity politics behind the Democratic fight for a Senate seat.
REOPEN OREGON PROTEST
Oregon State Police declared an unlawful assembly at the State Capitol in Salem on Monday after demonstrators pushed their way into the building and fought with law enforcement. The protest, billed as "Reopen Oregon," began as lawmakers were in the state Capitol to vote on coronavirus relief provisions. The demonstration comes after Democratic Gov. Kate Brown extended Oregon's state of emergency until March 3. At least 4 protesters were arrested.
POSTAL SERVICE SURVIVAL: WILL USPS GET A BIDEN BAIL OUT? / CHICAGO
With just days until Christmas, it's probably too late to get most gifts to friends and family by Dec 25th. About 3.5mil packages a day are being delayed, according to ShipMatrix, and the US Postal Service is the worst performing of the major players. Pres Trump has long criticized the USPS, pushing to privatize it and blaming Amazon for its losses. Pres-elect Biden campaigned on keeping the Postal Service public, but its financial struggles remain. We look at what the future holds for the USPS funding under a Biden Admin.
ISRAEL / MOROCCO FLIGHT
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will join an Israeli delegation aboard the first commercial flight from Israel to Morocco. Israel's flag carrier El Al Airlines is launching a regular route between Tel Aviv and Rabat, Morocco, after Israel and Morocco normalized diplomatic relations.
SINGAPORE LAB-GROWN CHICKEN IN RESTAURANT
A Singapore restaurant, 1880, launches dishes made from lab-grown chicken cultured by US start-up Eat Just. Singapore earlier this month gave what the firm says is the world's first regulatory approval for the so-called clean meat that does not come from slaughtered animals.
‘ROCK OF TALK’ DEBATE OF THE DAY
Outgoing Attorney General William Barr says he sees no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into the 2020 presidential election. Today is his last day of work. He was as worthless as the previous AG. In a press conference yesterday, Barr said he stood by his statement that there was no election fraud on a scale that could have affected the outcome of the election. According to some reports, President Donald Trump has considered appointing lawyer Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate. Powell has argued that the election was fraudulent in a series of court filings, all of which were dismissed.
What do you think President Trump will do next in his fight to overturn the results of the election?
Will the president have the power to appoint a special counsel on his own?
Is there any remaining strategy that you think can be successful?