The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Tuesday, December 8th, 2020
The Top 10 Links of the Day, Morning Local News Briefing, US and Global News Brief and Conservative Snapshot
Republican election officials in Georgia on Sunday continued to rebut Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, as the outgoing president tries to pressure the governor to help overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state
“The president’s statements are false, they’re misinformation,” Gabriel Sterling, voting system implementation manager for Georgia, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning. “They’re stoking anger and fear among his supporters.”
“This undermines democracy,” said Sterling, who is a Republican. “We have got to get to a point where responsible people act responsibly.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also countered the president’s baseless claims of election fraud on Sunday morning in an interview on “This Week” with ABC.
“We’ve never found systemic fraud, not enough to overturn the election,” he said.
The Republican election officials made their comments a day after Trump appeared at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, where he was campaigning for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who face runoff elections. There, he continued to claim without evidence that the election was stolen from him. -CNBC News Darla Mercado
TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY
NEW MEXICO NEWS BRIEF
New Mexico seeks court's protection from business lawsuits
SANTA FE, N.M. — Written arguments are due as the New Mexico state Supreme Court weighs whether businesses deserve compensation for losses linked to state emergency health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has asked the court to decide the fate of at least 14 lawsuits filed in district courts, with crucial written arguments due Monday from her office. The lawsuits against the state allege that pandemic-related health orders constitute a regulatory “taking” and that businesses deserve just compensation under provisions of the state Constitution and health-emergency statutes.
Vaccine alone won't save New Mexico hospitals, leaders say
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico hospital officials are updating the public on the overburdened healthcare system as cases and hospitalizations remain high. They're begging the public to cancel social visits, wear a mask and wash hands to drive down the COVID-19 cases. They're working to manage congested hospitals and exhausted medical staff. On Monday, the state’s top insurance regulator announced directives aimed at safeguarding access to health insurance, COVID-19 testing and treatment. On directive puts a freeze on recent proposals by commercial insurers to exclude coverage for various risks presented by COVID-19. That delays any potential approval until the Legislature can meet next year.
ID of man who found Rocky Mountains treasure chest revealed
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A grandson of the late author and art dealer Forrest Fenn has confirmed that a medical school student from Michigan found an over $1 million treasure chest that Fenn stashed in the wilds of Wyoming more than a decade ago. Shiloh Forrest Old wrote Monday on a website dedicated to the treasure that 32-year-old Jonathan “Jack” Stuef found the treasure in June. Stuef had met with Fenn soon after finding the treasure. Stuef also identified himself to Daniel Barbarisi for an article published Monday by Outside Magazine. Fenn left clues to finding the treasure in a poem in his memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase.”
New Mexico reports 1,250 new COVID-19 cases, 11 more deaths
SANTA FE, N.M. — Health officials in New Mexico on Sunday reported 1,250 new COVID-19 cases with 11 additional deaths. The latest numbers pushed the state’s totals since the pandemic began to 108,088 cases and 1,749 known deaths. On Saturday, New Mexico reported 1,925 cases and 32 deaths as the state continues to deal with a COVID-19 surge. Health officials had been warning that cases could go up in weeks following family gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday and related travel. Meanwhile, the New Mexico Human Services Department has been appropriated $5 million by the state Legislature to provide emergency financial assistance to low income state residents who didn’t get a federal COVID-19 tax relief economic impact payment.
Navajo Nation reports 213 new COVID-19 cases, 15 more deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation health officials on Monday reported 213 new COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths. In all, the tribe has now reported 18,163 cases and 682 knows deaths since the pandemic began. The Navajo Department of Health now has identified 77 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 from Nov. 20 to Dec. 3. Tribal officials say nearly all intensive care unit beds on the reservation are being are used as coronavirus cases surge. They warn that the tribe is nearing a point where health care workers will have to make difficult decisions about providing care with limited hospital resources. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Sunday evening that there are few options to transport patients to other regional hospitals that are near full capacity.
Concerns raised about costs of New Mexico Civil Rights Act
SANTA FE, N.M. — A proposed New Mexico Civil Rights Act that would allow legal claims to be filed in state court over alleged infringements on free speech, freedom of religion and other constitutional rights is getting mixed reviews. Some members of the state's nine-member Civil Rights Commission are predicting that the proposed law would increase local governments’ insurance costs and lead to law enforcement officers leaving New Mexico. The measure had its first vetting before a legislative panel earlier this week. It's expected to generate a contentious debate during the 60-day legislative session that begins in January.
Native Americans critique data, surveys following election
PHOENIX — The lack of visibility of Native Americans in exit poll data on network television hit a nerve in Indian Country in the days following the election. Some Natives responded with an outcry while others turned to humor to address what many describe as a longstanding problem. Native Americans make up less than 2% of the U.S. population and often are listed as “other” or denoted with an asterisk in datasets. Even when surveyed, the results can be considered statistically insignificant because the sample size isn’t large enough or the margin of error is too great to accurately reflect the population.
Energy payments to states in US West plummet in 2020
BILLINGS, Mont. — Payments to western U.S. states have plummeted for oil, natural gas and coal extracted by private companies from U.S. lands. The revenue drop comes after low crude prices and the pandemic idled drilling in many areas in 2020. Federal data shows payments to states for drilling on public lands and in U.S. waters were down by $630 million, or about 26%, in this fiscal year. New Mexico and Wyoming took the biggest fiscal hits. Companies pay the U.S government for the right to drill for fossil fuels on public lands and in U.S. waters. The money is split with the states where drilling occurs.
US AND GLOBAL NEWS BRIEF
VACCINE HOME STRETCH: KEY PLAYERS MEET AT WHITE HOUSE
Pres Trump is expected to sign an exec order to ensure all Americans have access to the coronavirus vaccine ahead of other countries. More data from the FDA and Pfizer is expected today, with details regarding Pfizer's vaccine. This comes as the White House hosts leading vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors, and state govt officials for an "Operation Warp Speed Summit," just 2 days ahead of the FDA's scheduled meeting to approve Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine for emergency approval. Invitees include the CEOs of Pfizer & Moderna as well drug distributors, pharmacies, and logistics companies, including McKesson, Walgreens, CVS, UPS, & FedEx. This as Pfizer & Moderna are scaling up ambitious supply chain and distribution systems to deliver hundreds of millions of doses around the world as quickly as possible.
BIDEN HEALTH TEAM
Joe Biden will introduce his health team today in Wilmington, which includes some familiar faces such as Vivek Murthy, who will again become Surgeon Gen, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and fmr Rep Xavier Becerra. Becerra will be nominated to be Biden's HHS Secy, but already faces opposition from Senate Republicans, such as Tom Cotton, who says he will vote No, and Mike Braun, who says he will meet with Becerra but that he has serious concerns because he says Becerra "has accepted over $1,000,000 in donations from the big healthcare industry and has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood." FOX has also confirmed Biden has selected retired Gen Lloyd Austin as his Secy of Defense.
GA has recertified its presidential election results following a second recount of the state's votes. The manual recount, requested by the Trump campaign, once again showed a victory for Joe Biden. Pres Trump was in GA this past weekend to campaign for the state's two GOP senators running for re-election, while Pres-elect Biden says he will travel there as well.
AZ CHALLENGES / PHOENIX
A federal judge in AZ ordered a hearing for today on the orders to dismiss filed by the defendants of a Trump supporter lawsuit, lead by attys Sidney Powell & L. Lin Wood. The plaintiffs are the 11 would-be Trump electors if Trump had won the state, and they are seeking to overturn the state's elections results. One of them is AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward, who is also awaiting an AZ Supreme Court decision on her appeal of a separate lawsuit brought against Maricopa County that was tossed out by a Superior Court Judge on Friday. Also, on Friday, the Republican Speaker of the House said he would not call for a special session of the legislature, saying he "cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election."
BRACING FOR BIDEN: BIDEN HEALTH TEAM ON GUNS
Gun sales are seeing a record surge as the Biden Admin is being filled with allies of gun control, most recently with his picks for his health team. Xavier Becerra, Biden's pick for HHS, has imposed strict limits on guns as CA Atty Gen, while Dr. Vivek Murthy, who will return as Surgeon Gen, has called guns a public health issue. In a resurfaced tweet, Murthy saying "tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue." That put him at odds with Republicans and NRA officials when he was tapped for the post of US Surgeon General under fmr Pres Obama in 2014. With Biden surrounding himself with gun control advocates, new questions are being raised over whether the admin will effort an all admin approach on a crackdown.
BRACING FOR BIDEN: BIDEN SPENDING PUSH AMID GLOBAL DEBT TSUNAMI
Global debt levels are the fourth highest in recorded history and at the highest levels not in a result of a massive crash. Govts and companies took on $15tril more borrowing this year, leaving global indebtedness on track to exceed $277tril in 2020, according to the Institute of Intl Finance. Pres-elect Biden's economic team is pushing for more govt borrowing to combat the pandemic since the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates near 0, making borrowing more attractive. But how long until the debt becomes catastrophic to the economy?
ANTI-SOCIALISM FREEDOM SQUAD
"In my 42 yrs, I grew up in socialistic system, I experienced how bad it is when the socialistic system failed," says Rep-elect Victoria Spartz, who was born and raised in Ukraine before immigrating to the US. She is now preparing to take her seat as a member of Congress, where she brings the message, "we are the greatest Republic that ever existed in the history of the world, and we are the country of American dream." Her words, and the message of her colleagues like Reps-elect Nicole Malliotakis and Carlos Gimenez, are renewing the conversation surrounding socialism, and they are directly countering policies championed by the left-wing "Squad."
MAC'S ARREST FOLO
Fox has obtained video showing the incident on Staten Island where Mac's Public House co-owner Danny Presti allegedly rams his Jeep into a sheriff's deputy attempting to arrest him. His atty says the video shows his client running for his life from unidentified individuals dressed in dark clothing. He says one of those individuals clearly jumped on the hood of the vehicle and adds that the officers broke proper procedure. The bar will be closed for the next couple days. Presti is facing charges including assault and reckless endangerment.
CA COVID SURGE
While 33mil Californians are under regional stay home orders, public health officials are warning that COVID cases will likely continue to surge for weeks. Restaurants, salons, and retail stores, devastated by months of restrictions, are struggling with the latest orders during what is typically their busiest time of the year.
MI RESTAURANTS STRUGGLE WITH COVID RESTRICTIONS
Statewide COVID restrictions have taken a devastating toll on small businesses across the US, particularly for restaurant & bar owners like Lisa Hanlin, who says she is on the verge of having to close her Milford, MI, restaurant and lay off her staff, and that the lockdown in her state seems to have no strategy. Indoor dining in MI was shut back down 3 wks ago amid a surge in cases, and yesterday Gov Whitmer extended that order for 12 more days. MI restaurant group owner Joe Vicari, who has more than 20 restaurants employing 1,000 people, has had to lay off 700 employees amidst the latest set of orders. He points out people are still allowed to go holiday shopping in stores, and that restaurants have done everything they've been asked to do to slow the spread.
UK VACCINE ROLLOUT
British health authorities have rolled out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine, starting a global immunization program that is expected to gain momentum as more serums win approval. The first shot was given Tuesday to Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, at one of several hospitals around the country that are handling the initial phase of the program on what has been dubbed "V-Day." Public health officials have asked the public to be patient because only those who are most at risk from COVID-19 will be vaccinated in the early stages. Most will have to wait until next year before there is enough vaccine to expand the program.
COVID VACCINE SCIENCE
Among the top reasons why nearly 50% of Americans do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine is due to unknown side effects. According to a Pew Research Center study, 76% of those who will not take a vaccine said it is for that exact reason. Part of that fear is due to the development of the vaccines and the minimal data available from the trials. The Pfizer and Modern vaccines both use mRNA, which allows scientists to use genetic gnome of the virus to design the vaccine. But no vaccine created with mRNA has ever been approved. Scientists say that rather than creating more fear, this should ease concerns since it's a smarter, faster, and more efficient way to map out the best attacks against a virus.
DOUBTS AS DRY ICE DEMAND HEATS UP
As Americans still await details about vaccine distribution plans, dry ice companies are gearing up for a surge in demand. The vaccines will require ultra-cold temps for shipping & storage, and dry ice is crucial to the supply chain. Public health experts say the plan is to use dry ice in storage containers to distribute the vaccine as a substitute for building large freezers. Dry ice companies are preparing for a busy 2021 by increasing liquid carbon dioxide storage, production equipment, and shipping container inventory. Concerns remain that even if the supply is efficient, issues with the supply chain could delay shipments and keep available vaccines from meeting the demand. Another concern: dry ice, which emits carbon dioxide, can be a very serious hazard in a small space that isn't well-ventilated and can lead to combustion.
FL AGENTS RAID EX-STATE COVID EMPLOYEE
FL police raided the home of a fmr state health employee who built FL's highly-praised Coronavirus dashboard but was fired back in May for insubordination, which she claims was actually her "refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data." Rebekah Jones tweeted video of police entering her home with guns drawn yesterday morning, executing a search warrant while her husband & children were upstairs. The state accuses Jones of hacking into a Dept of Health messaging system, a claim she denies. After Jones was fired, she started her own COVID dashboard to report what she says are FL's "real numbers." In an interview last night after her release, Jones said she thinks the police aren't actually even after her; they wanted her phone to see which current DOH employees have been anonymously supplying her with information.
MORE THAN ONE MILLION MAIL BALLOTS REQUESTED AHEAD SENATE RUNOFF ELECTION NEXT MONTH
More than 1 million absentee ballots have already been requested for Georgia's Senate runoffs next month, which is 75 percent of the total absentee ballots requested in the November 3 presidential election. Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia election official, said at a news conference Monday that 1,037,172 absentee ballot applications have been put into the voter registration system. There are an additional 39,259 ballots that are on the dashboard for the online request process, bringing the total to 1,076,431. According to Sterling, more than 43,000 absentee ballots have been returned and accepted by counties around the state. Data from the secretary of state's office showed 628,505 of the current requests are from the rollover list, which includes people over the age of 65, the disabled and military voters who can check a box on their first absentee ballot application each year and have an absentee ballot sent to them automatically for every election in that year. Georgia state law says that absentee ballots can be requested through the Friday before the election, which means registered voters can request their mail-in ballot up until January 1, 2021. The runoff election will take place on January 5.
NASHVILLE NURSE MURDER MYSTERY
Police in Nashville, TN, are trying to find any suspects who shot and killed a nurse on a highway last Thursday night. Someone fired shots into the car of 26-yr-old Kaitlyn Kaufman as she drove to work, headed for a night shift that would start at 7pm. The victim's mother spoke at a news conference yesterday, saying Kaufman was a devoted health care worker with no enemies. Her mother said she couldn't understand why anyone would have attacked Kaufman. Police are asking anyone who was on the highway that night to call in with any information that could help in the investigation.
-Iran is claiming that a satellite controlled machine gun killed top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside of Tehran last month.
-State media outlets claim facial recognition technology was used in the attack that is being blamed on Israel.
-The reports come as Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said overnight that the Islamic Republic is happy the US Navy is acknowledging the messaging put forward by the Iranian military.
OUTDOOR HOLIDAY DECORATION CRAZE
Multiple holiday traditions have been either scrapped or pared down this Christmas, but there are no limits on how much you can decorate your house. And with fewer dollars spent on eating out, seeing movies in theaters, and attending holiday shows like “The Nutcracker”, Americans seem to be decorating at a fevered pace. Holiday decorating company Christmas Decor says orders for its installations began to roll in back in April; that's the first time that's ever happened. Berkshire Hathaway-owned Oriental Decor reports sales of Christmas outdoor signs and scenes are up 91% from last year.
CITIES FLOAT AMAZON DELIVERY TAX
Several cities are proposing a "ground delivery tax" for Amazon and other packages as people avoid in-store shopping due to the pandemic. Chicago is looking to impose a $1.25 tax per package weighing 50 lbs or less, and $2.50 for packages weighing more than 50 lbs. In NY, some officials are suggesting a $3 surcharge on online deliveries to help the struggling MTA. We look at how local govts are planning to plug budget shortfalls by hitting up consumers.
FINAL BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS
UK PM Boris Johnson is expected in Brussels, Belgium, for crucial phase of post-Brexit trade talks. While the UK left the EU politically on Jan. 31, it remains within the bloc's tariff-free single market and customs union through Dec. 31. Reaching a trade deal by then would ensure there are no tariffs and trade quotas on goods exported or imported by the two sides, although there would still be new costs and red tape.
UEA INVESTOR IN ISRAELI SOCCER TEAM
Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem holds a Zoom press conference with Emirati businessman Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, who has bought a 50% stake in the team. The club remains the only one in the Israel Premier League to have never signed an Arab player and their fans became infamous for their 'Death to Arabs' chant.
OFFICIAL EVEREST HEIGHT
Nepal announces the newly measured height of Mount Everest after working for a year on processing data. The current official Everest height of 29,028 ft was measured by the Survey of India in 1954.
NOBEL PRIZES PRESENTED
The traditional Nobel festivities in Stockholm have been canceled due to the pandemic, so this year's winners give virtual speeches and will be presented with their diplomas and medals at Swedish consulates and other locations in their home countries.
CONSERVATIVE DAILY SNAPSHOT
Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are arguing that she is being treated poorly during her confinement. They state that she has lost weight, and that her hair is falling out. Apparently, she is being woken every 15 minutes to ensure she is still alive. This kind of prolonged wakefulness is known in the British military as “resistance training” and is used to prepare soldiers for possible torture.
A New York exodus is underway and the latest major company to consider warmer climes is Goldman Sachs. Bloomberg reports that the Wall Street firm is discussing a move to the Sunshine State. How long can the Big Apple stay fresh without a constant tax base?
The U.K. has begun COVID vaccinations. It is expected that the elderly and frontline hospital staff will receive the first batch. To date, no long-term study has been carried out on the vaccine that openly states up to 10% of recipients will suffer some side-effects.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper claims that President Trump didn’t have the guts to tell the people the truth. A fine statement from a network that has become synonymous with every single hatchet job fake news piece to grace the airways. Can you say “Russiagate”?
MSNBC claims that “The elite and powerful are radicalizing conservative America,” while entirely ignoring the enormous fortunes being spent by wealthy individuals and companies in favor of left-leaning candidates and policies. In fact, a recent Senate hearing exposed that those on the left receive three times as much from supposed “shady donors” as those on the right.
Senator Ted Cruz has said that if the Supreme Court decides to take the Pennsylvania election lawsuit, he will gladly argue the president’s case. The case relates to a 2019 state law allowing no-excuse mail-in voting which the lawyers say is unconstitutional. If it is heard, and if it is won, it could cast serious doubts on many of the commonwealth’s votes.
Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, perhaps due to her recent handling of the Black Lives Matter protests, will not be seeking re-election. She claims she wants to focus on the ongoing COVID issue, but is this likely? Handing over a large portion of your city to CHOP and ignoring sexual assaults and murders is not a solid basis for a political campaign. Chickens eventually come home to roost; it is just a question of when.
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