The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Monday, December 21st, 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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“Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It’s something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.” -Vince Lombardi

THE CONSERVATIVE CALENDAR

Forecast at The KIVA: High 56 Degrees at 4pm (Will feel like 54) Low 26 Degrees at 7am (Will feel like 21). Winds get to 9MPH at 11:00am. Sunny and Clear. *Weather is from the KIVA Weather Station.

Today is Monday, Dec. 21, the 356th day of 2020. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 3:02 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

In 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.

In 1864, during the Civil War, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman concluded their "March to the Sea" as they captured Savannah, Georgia.

In 1945, U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton, 60, died in Heidelberg, Germany, 12 days after being seriously injured in a car accident.

In 1969, Vince Lombardi coached his last football game as his team, the Washington Redskins, lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 20-10.

In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground.

In 1995, the city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.

In 2010 The Census Bureau announced that the nation's population on April 1, 2010,

Today's Birthdays: Talk show host Phil Donahue is 85. Actor Jane Fonda is 83. International Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert is 66. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 63. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 54.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

1030EST -- Atty Gen Barr and others will hold a press conference regarding the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which occurred Dec. 21, 1988, killing all 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground. Dept of Justice, Washington, DC.

1130EST -- VPOTUS leads a teleconference with higher education chancellors & presidents; Situation Room.

1400EST -- VPOTUS leads a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting; Situation Room.  

1430EST -- VPOTUS leads a governors video teleconference on COVID-19 response & recovery; Situation Room.

UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS

The Rock of Talk at 4pm on ABQ.FM / AM 1600 KIVA or anywhere at www.rockoftalk.com

TOP 10 VIDEOS OF THE DAY

  1. Peter Schweizer: Joe Biden Is ‘Direct Beneficiary’ of Hunter’s Foreign Deals

  2. United Airlines Passenger Dies After Lying About Covid Symptoms

  3. Nikki Haley: Bernie Sanders Will Be Your Senate Chair if Dems Win the Senate — Socialism Will Be the New Way of Life

  4. Jack Hough on Bitcoin Rise: You’re Either Going to Make 20-Times Your Money or Lose Half

  5. Mitt Romney: Instead of Taking ‘Victory Lap’ on Vaccine, Trump Is Pushing ‘Nutty and Loopy’ Conspiracy Theories

  6. Herschel Walker’s Son: Electoral College Votes Not Certified Until January 6th, ‘Not Over Till It’s Over’

  7. Jake Tapper to Romney: You Were Proven Correct that Russia Was Our Number One Geo-Political Foe

  8. Chris Christie: Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell Should Be Kept out of the White House

  9. Mark Levin on Dismissed Voter Fraud Cases: The Supreme Court Has Not Upheld the Constitution

  10. Debra Haaland: I’m ‘Honored and Humbled’ to Accept Nomination for Secretary of the Interior

TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY

  1. Pregnant woman speaks out after teen charged with her baby’s death

  2. Old Town businesses ask community to keep their dollars local

  3. New Mexico Veterans Services offers suicide prevention resources

  4. 'Do as I say': Anger as some politicians ignore virus rules

  5. In Germany, ‘tis the season to point fingers

  6. FDA investigating allergic reactions to Pfizer vaccine reported in multiple states

  7. Mark Levin Goes After SCOTUS for Rejecting Trump Lawsuits

  8. Gabbard earns pro-life praise for bills to shield babies feeling pain, protect abortion survivors

  9. Early humans likely hibernated to deal with freezing winters

  10. US on pace for slowest population growth since Spanish Flu and economic impact is already evident

MORNING LOCAL NEWS BRIEFING

New Mexico reports 1,077 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico on Sunday reported 1,077 new COVID-19 cases and 16 related deaths. The statewide totals increased to 129,993 cases and 2,171 known deaths as seven-day rolling averages for daily new cases dropped and daily deaths rose over the last two weeks. Of the 1,077 new cases, New Mexico Department of Health officials say 278 of them were in Bernalillo County, the state's largest county that includes the metro Albuquerque area. The number of overall infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Appeals court judge is appointed to New Mexico Supreme Court

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Julie J. Vargas, a judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, has been appointed to serve on the state Supreme Court. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office announced the appointment Saturday. Vargas, a Democrat, will succeed retired Justice Judith K. Nakamura, a Republican who was appointed by former Gov. Susana Martinez. Vargas grew up in Albuquerque and got her law degree from the University of New Mexico. As an appellate court judge, Vargas has heard disputed decisions from lower courts around the state since 2016.  She won a 2016 primary election for an eight-year term on the state Court of Appeals.

Houston, Hawaii to meet in New Mexico Bowl in Frisco, Texas

The Houston Cougars and Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will meet in the New Mexico Bowl. The game was moved from Albuquerque to Frisco, Texas, due to state guidelines in New Mexico regarding intercollegiate athletics and travel during the coronavirus pandemic. It's a rematch of the 2003 Hawaii Bowl, when there was a brawl at midfield after the Rainbow Warriors beat the Cougars 54-48 in three overtimes.

Older students to continue remote learning in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Public education officials and state legislators are reflecting on challenges facing schools during the pandemic as the fall semester comes to a close. The education department says it is engaging more absentee students and accounting for more of the 12,000 students it had reported as  "missing" from public school rolls. Around 7,000 have been identified by cross-checking lists of students who switched to homeschooling, or to out-of-state or private schools were more in-person learning is offered. A small number have left school altogether. Legislators are raising concerns that some high school students are working long hours to provide for their families.

Biden introduces his climate team, says 'no time to waste'

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden says the United States needs a unified, national response to dealing with climate change just as it has for COVID-19. Biden's comments came Saturday as he rolled out key members of his environmental team including New Mexico Congresswoman Debra Haaland, saying there's no time to waste in dealing with climate issues. The approach is a shift from Donald Trump's administration, which has been marked by efforts to boost oil and gas production while rolling back government efforts intended to safeguard the environment. The incoming Biden team will try to undo or block many of the Trump administration's initiatives.

Kirtland AFB unit getting new search-and-rescue helicopters

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A special operations unit at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque has received the first of an expected 14 new combat search-and-rescue helicopters. Officials say the first HH-60W and those that follow will be flown by 512th Rescue Squadron of the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland. The HH60W will be used to train air crew members and will gradually replace the HH-60G. The Air Force has been operating the HH-60G since 1987. Air Force officials anticipate that the 58th Wing will training crews for both aircraft types until at least 2023.

US: More must be done to protect Colorado River from drought

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A set of guidelines for managing the Colorado River helped seven Western states through a dry spell. But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it's not enough to keep key reservoirs from plummeting amid persistent drought and climate change. Millions of people in seven states and Mexico rely on the river for drinking water and growing crops. The bureau was tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of the 2007 guidelines that give the states an idea of how much water to expect each year. It released a report Friday saying stronger measures are needed in the future. States, tribes and others will use the report to start negotiating what will replace the guidelines in 2026.

Albuquerque to consider smaller emergency homeless shelters

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — City officials in New Mexico have scrapped a plan to build one large 300-bed homeless shelter and are now considering a series of smaller facilities with at least 100 beds each throughout the community. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Tim Keller did not identify on Thursday how many emergency shelter beds would be included in one of the locations it is attempting to buy. Keller said the plan was "fluid" because the city has not yet purchased the former Lovelace hospital in Albuquerque. Family and Community Services Director Carol Pierce said a smaller shelter could include between 100 and 150 beds of emergency shelter.

US AND GLOBAL NEWS BRIEFING

VACCINE / NEW YORK

A federal advisory panel put people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers next in line for COVID-19 shots as a second vaccine began rolling out Sunday to hospitals. The two developments come as the nation seeks to ramp up a vaccination program that began last week and has given initial shots to more than 556,000 Americans, according to the CDC. CDC officials say up to 20 million are projected to start getting shots this month, another 30 million next month, and 50 million in February. That's 100 million people, out of a population of more than 330 million.

NEW STRAIN / UK  

A growing list of European Union nations and Canada barred travel from the U.K. on Sunday and others were considering similar action, in a bid to block a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England from spreading to the continent. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Bulgaria all announced restrictions on U.K. travel, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be canceled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant. Johnson immediately placed those regions under a strict new Tier 4 restriction level, upending Christmas plans for millions. France banned all travel from the U.K. for 48 hours from midnight Sunday, including trucks carrying freight through the tunnel under the English Channel or from the port of Dover on England's south coast. French officials said the pause would buy time to find a "common doctrine" on how to deal with the threat, but it threw the busy cross-channel route used by thousands of trucks a day into chaos.

COVID NUMBERS & LOCKDOWNS / PHOENIX

 The country set a grim new record on Friday - just under 250,000 (249,709) new COVID cases were recorded, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began. More than 18,000 people died from the disease last week alone. In Phoenix, ICU's are full and some hospitals are using refrigerated trucks as temporary morgues. Health officials warn the coming weeks will be even worse, as the full effects of Thanksgiving gatherings are felt and as people continue to defy stay-at-home guidance to mix and mingle on the Christmas and New Year's holidays. 

COVID NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE / CAPITOL HILL

The four congressional leaders announced a COVID relief deal Sunday evening setting up votes Monday in the House and Senate. Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer both called the agreement far from perfect, but said it was the "first step" in providing more aid to struggling Americans. Leader McConnell said the country waited far too long for this additional package but was glad to get it done. The more than $900 billion dollar deal includes extended unemployment insurance, $600 direct payments to Americans, and more PPP funding. It doesn't include funds for state and local government. However, Schumer and Pelosi believe with Joe Biden in the White House instead of President Trump that Senate Republicans will be more open to making a deal on this next year.  

NEWS OF THE DAY / WILMINGTON

As PEOTUS Joe Biden's highly-anticipated pick for AG remains front and center, incoming WH Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, told "Fox News Sunday" that Biden will not be discussing any investigation of his son Hunter with anyone he is considering to be the next U.S. attorney general. Psaki adding that the President-Elect's pick will "oversee an independent department"--Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Alabama Senator Doug Jones, and Merrick Garland all reportedly among the top list of contenders. But first, the President-elect is rolling up his sleeve for his first dose of the COVID vaccine, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris returns to Georgia, campaigning for both Democratic candidates in the high stakes Senate races. 

NY-GOV. CUOMO CALLS FOR BAN ON TRAVEL FROM UK DUE TO NEW STRAIN OF CORONAVIRUS 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday called it “reprehensible” and “grossly negligent” to allow UK travelers to fly into JFK Airport without being tested despite a contagious new mutation of the coronavirus shutting down London. “Right now, this variant in the UK is getting on a plane and flying to JFK,” Cuomo said in a call to reporters Sunday of the mutation UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned could be 70 percent more transmittable. “Right now. Today,” the governor stressed, calling for the feds to impose coronavirus testing of UK travelers at a “minimum,” if not an outright ban. “Literally six flights a day. And all it takes is one person,” he said of the possible seed for the new strain’s spread. So far, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Bulgaria have all announced bans or strict restrictions on UK travelers since Johnson announced London’s lockdown on Saturday. At least 120 countries also make sure travelers from the UK get a negative test for the coronavirus before letting them in, Cuomo said — saying that Johnson’s sudden lockdown so close to Christmas was a clear sign of how “apparently dangerous” the new mutation has proven.

NJ-SOLDIER IN CUSTODY FOR ALLEGEDLY KILLING A FELLOW SOLDIER  

A U.S. Army soldier assigned to Fort Drum, New York who was reported missing from the base was found shot to death off a road in Sussex County on Saturday. A suspect in the killing - a fellow soldier - is in custody in upstate New York, officials said. Cpl. Hayden Harris, 20, was found shot to death in a wooded area near Ross Road in Byram Township, Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller said Sunday afternoon. Harris was last heard from between 8 p.m. Thursday and 6:30 a.m. Friday, according to Syracuse.com. Harris was headed to Watertown, New York - the largest city near the base - “for some type of vehicle transaction and has not been seen since,” the publication reported. He was driving a red 2016 Ford Mustang with Tennessee license plates - from his home state, Army officials said in Facebook posts. On Saturday, members of the Byram Township fire department were doing work on Ross Road when they spotted a pair of shoes, paperwork and blood and contacted police. Responding officers found Harris in a nearby wooded area, Mueller said. Mueller went on to say a suspect in Harris’ killing is being held in New York State on charges related to the soldier’s disappearance, and pending extradition to New Jersey after additional charges are filed in Sussex County.

TN-GOV. BILL LEE INSTITUTING NEW COVID RESTRICTIONS 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has announced new social gathering restrictions while still refusing to implement a mask mandate despite pleas from front-line healthcare workers in a state experiencing the highest new cases per capita in the country. Instead of a mask mandate, the Republican on Sunday signed an executive order limiting public gatherings to 10 people. However, places of worship, weddings and funerals are exempt from the order. He called the state “ground zero” in the COVID-19 battle and urged Tennesseans not to gather with people outside their immediate households during the upcoming holidays. His message comes just a day after Lee confirmed that his wife Maria had tested positive for COVID-19. Lee says he has tested negative but will remain in quarantine at the governor’s residence. Tennessee is one of a dozen states without a mask mandate. Instead, local counties have the option of implementing their own mask restrictions. Lee was originally scheduled to take reporter questions after his statewide address, but his office later postponed that until Monday without giving a reason why.

AR-GOV. CALLING FOR PUBLIC TO DO MORE TO TAMP DOWN COVID NUMBERS 

Arkansas’ governor is urging residents to protect each other from the coronavirus this holiday season. The state on Sunday reported 1,536 new COVID-19 cases and 46 more deaths. One in every 190 people in Arkansas tested positive in the past week. The Arkansas Department of Health said that the state has reported more than 201,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths since the pandemic began. The high number of Arkansans who have died is heartbreaking,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday on Twitter. oting that Christmas is just five days away, he asked Arkansans to protect each other and said, “What we do will determine how we start our new year.” Health officials said that 1,057 people with COVID-19 are in Arkansas hospitals.

IRAQ / US EMBASSY ATTACK

Eight rockets were fired at the US embassy in Baghdad overnight causing minor damage and injuring at least one Iraqi soldier. The Iraqi government is calling this a "terrorist attack," while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted saying, "These violent and corrupt criminals must cease their destabilizing actions." The escalation comes just two weeks before the one-year anniversary of a US drone strike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. As the United States is preparing a troop drawdown in Iraq from 3,000 soldiers to 2,500, there are concerns of provocations from Iranian proxies in this area.

MOTHER OUTRAGED OVER DROPPED CHARGES / LOS ANGELES

The mother of a man who was brutally murdered and thrown off a cliff is outraged after learning that prosecutors dismissed special charges against her son's suspected killers. The suspects, accused of repeatedly beating and stabbing 20-year-old Julian Andrade before throwing him off a cliff, had deadly weapon, kidnapping and robbery charges dismissed that could have put them away for life. The victim's mother says she feels let down by this justice system. LA's new District Attorney is planning to drop enhanced charges in dozens of criminal cases awaiting trial.

DALTON SCHOOL CONTROVERSY

The Dalton School, a private school in NYC, is facing backlash after some faculty members proposed a list of recommendations asking the school to reform the staffing and curriculum to better serve its black students.  The New York Post is reporting some parents do not support the new proposals and others are removing their kids from the school as they feel their voices are not being heard. School officials tell Fox they don't support all of the language and ideas in the recommendations but do support debate on the topic.

TAXED TO THE MAX: DRIVERS HIT WITH THIRD GAS TAX HIKE IN 18 MONTHS

Chicago drivers are gearing up to pay more at the pump for the third time in the last 18 months. Starting January 1, local gas prices will be hit with a 3-cent tax hike, bringing the total in gas taxes and fees to nearly $1 per gallon. It's all part of a new budget plan that aims to bring in $10 million in revenue after the pandemic cratered the economy. But experts warn Mayor Lightfoot's aggressive tax agenda on gas will not solve Chicago's fiscal troubles, including its estimated $1.2 billion shortfall. We'll look at the new woes at the pump and why this will force more drivers to look for cheaper options in nearby states like Indiana.

TRUMP'S LAST STAND WITH CHINA... THEN WHAT?

The Trump Administration is taking action on China in its final weeks, but questions over whether the Biden Administration will continue this tough stance remain. The outgoing administration is cementing tough policies on China by blacklisting dozens of Chinese firms, banning US investors from buying shares in Chinese companies, and sanctioning senior Chinese lawmakers. Biden has pledged not to reveal his policy stance on China until after being inaugurated, but has signaled his approach would be different. The president-elect has touted a cozy friendship with Chinese President Xi and has cheered China's economic rise. Biden says that alienating allies in taking on China doesn't make sense to him. He's also signaled he would ratchet up pressure over China's human-rights record and sideline President Trump's "phase one" trade agreement. So what could policy under Biden on China look like?

DOWNGRADED: STEEP REMOTE LEARNING CURVE

Nine months into the pandemic and remote learning, the cracks in education and infrastructure systems continue to hurt students and families nationwide. In New York City alone, the biggest public school system in the U.S., there is a backlog of over 90,000 requests for laptops for students that haven't been filled. Nationwide, millions are without the means to go to school virtually as infrastructure for high-speed and wireless Internet doesn't even exist in certain areas, placing a heavy burden on low-income and rural families. To compound problems further, a teacher shortage has pushed public school employment to a 20-year low, resulting in class sizes of over 50 students and districts relying on parents or even bus drivers to play babysitter to classrooms. We'll look at the huge task schools across the country have as they get ready to usher back students after the holidays. 

HOLIDAY ROAD TRIP: RV SALES ACCELERATING

With Americans forced to find alternate holiday travel plans due to the pandemic, one sector that has found a way to thrive is recreational vehicles. Thanks to 44 million Americans road camping this past year, the RV industry has been one of the nation's largest growing industries. According to gorving.com, sales have been up from 90 to 300 percent nationwide, depending the dealership, and rentals are up over 1,000 percent. We'll be live at an RV dealership in the suburbs of Nashville to examine whether this trend can continue post pandemic. 

NEW YEAR'S NUMERALS

Ten days before New Year's Eve, the giant, seven-foot-tall numerals for "2021" will arrive in Times Square on the Times Square Plaza. The famous numerals will arrive after being transported on a cross-country trip. The coast-to-coast tour started in California travelling through Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey giving people across the country an opportunity to cheer the arrival of 2021! The four numerals use a total of 526 energy efficient LED bulbs; the numeral "2" contains 145 bulbs, the "0" contains 164 bulbs, and the "1" contains 72 bulbs.

‘ROCK OF TALK’ DEBATE OF THE DAY

Nursing home residents and health care workers are first in line to get the Covid-19 vaccine. A Centers for Disease Control advisory committee has recommended that people aged 75 and older and front-line essential workers be next in line, along with first responders and teachers. "Front-line essential workers," by the way, means everyone who has to work with the public. Included in that group is anyone who works with the food we eat, from farmers to grocery store checkout clerks. Government health officials say it could be June before everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.

  • Do you agree with the priority list set by government health officials?

  • Are you anxious to get the vaccine, or do you have reservations?

  • Do you think you will feel relieved and free to go out and mingle, once many or most of us have been vaccinated?

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