The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Wednesday, December 16th, 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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“It is still going to be a very difficult winter. Distributing millions of vaccines will take months, so there will be a period where some people have natural immunity and others have vaccine immunity, while others remain vulnerable. Moreover, we don’t know how long vaccine immunity will last. While it would be great to get a vaccine on a Monday and celebrate your newfound immunity at a party on Tuesday, that’s not how it works. Those who are lucky to get a vaccine early in the process owe it to their communities to continue wearing masks and distancing until new cases and hospitalizations subside to near zero.”

-Dave O’Connor, PhD, University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison

THE CONSERVATIVE CALENDAR

Forecast at The KIVA: High 43 Degrees at 4pm (Will feel like 37) Low 23 Degrees at 7am (Will feel like 13). Winds get to 10 MPH at 2:00pm. Trace precipitation. Sunny and Clear. *Weather is from the KIVA Weather Station.

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 16, the 351st day of 2020. There are 15 days left in 2020

In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.

In 1809, the French Senate granted a divorce decree to Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine (the dissolution was made final the following month).

In 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg (the Allies were eventually able to turn the Germans back).

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight "world conquest by Communist imperialism."

One year ago: House Democrats laid out their impeachment case against President Donald Trump; a sweeping report from the House Judiciary Committee said Trump had "betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections."

Today's Birthdays: CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 79.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

0730MST -- HHS and the DOD hold a briefing with senior officials on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

0800MST -- Senate Homeland Security & Govt Affairs Cmte holds hearing on "Examining Irregularities in the 2020 Election."

0800MST -- Senate Judiciary Cmte holds a nominations hearing.

0900MST -- NJ Gov Murphy and state officials hold a winter weather press conference.

0930MST -- House Dem Caucus leaders hold a press conference.

0930MST -- POTUS holds a Cabinet meeting.

0945MST -- Pres-elect Biden & VP-elect Harris deliver remarks. Wilmington, DE.

1000MST -- The House is scheduled to meet.

1200MST -- Fed Reserve policy meeting.

1200MST -- VPOTUS delivers remarks at a "Life Is Winning" event highlighting the Trump Admin's pro-life record.

1230MST -- Fed Chair Powell holds a press conference.

1400MST -- VPOTUS leads a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting.

UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS

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

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

TOP 10 VIDEOS OF THE DAY

TOP 10 LINKS OF THE DAY

  1. COVID could have impact on MLG's reelection bid

  2. Report recommends more equity in New Mexico's tax structure

  3. Two aircraft trikes stolen from Double Eagle Airport

  4. Michigan legislature committees subpoena election evidence from Detroit and nearby suburb

  5. Biden Selects Another Carbon Tax Supporter: Pete Buttigieg

  6. Covid and The Rise of Cage Keeper Democracy

  7. Astra Rocket 3.2 reaches space after launch from Alaska

  8. The Orion spacecraft is now 15 years old and has flown into space just once

  9. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated over $4 billion in last 4 months

  10. Congress OKs new Arctic icebreakers for Coast Guard

MORNING LOCAL NEWS BRIEFING

New Mexico plans to resume jury trials in February

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico courts are scheduled to resume jury trials in February 2021 after a hiatus in response to surging coronavirus infections. The Administrative Office of the Courts announced the order Monday. The suspension of jury trials in November did not apply to grand juries that decide whether evidence warrants charges of criminal conduct. In a news release, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil said the state judiciary relies on an emergency response team to monitor pandemic risks. State courts have remained open throughout the pandemic as judges use video and telephone conferencing to carry out civil and criminal legal proceedings.

Utah parents sue to allow students to return to classrooms

SALT LAKE CITY — A dozen parents have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Salt Lake City School District after it refused to open schools and relied on remote learning., The parents are claiming the decision represented what they called a historic deprivation of rights. The Deseret News reports that the lawsuit filed Monday claims the district's decision stripped about 21,000 students of rights to a free and open public education under the state Constitution. The Salt Lake City Board of Education voted earlier this year to conduct school only by remote learning. It became the only Utah school district to do so in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

New Mexico land boss ends fresh water sales for oil and gas

SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico State Land Office is halting the practice of selling fresh water from state trust lands for use in oil and gas development. Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard detailed the shift in policy in a letter issued Tuesday. She sent the letter to companies that hold easements that grant access to trust land for pumping fresh water. Under the change, existing easements will not be renewed once they expire and no new easements will be issued. The agency says the policy is aimed at encouraging the industry to use recycled or produced water given the scarcity of fresh resources in New Mexico.

Education lawsuit demands internet for New Mexico students

SANTA FE, N.M. — Lawyers representing Native American students say New Mexico is violating a 2018 court order in a landmark education case as attempts to boost internet access and provide learning devices are falling short. The case covers 80% of the state's students, including Native Americans and those who are low-income or disabled. Lawyers representing the students say educational opportunities would not have been as inadequate had the state complied with the court order and ensured access to technology for all students. In a motion filed Tuesday, they asked a court to compel the state to provide laptops and internet to students who still lack them.

Top New Mexico health official hopeful about vaccine rollout

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The new state health chief says the arrival of vaccines in New Mexico marks a turning point and she's hopeful for a brighter day as people get vaccinated over the coming months. Still, health Secretary Tracie Collins said Tuesday that while vaccination will prevent COVID-19 infection, there is more that needs to be learned about how effective inoculations will be in stemming transmission of the virus. She says that means residents still need to wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash their hands often and keep up with other COVID-safe practices. Tuesday marked Collins' second day at the helm of the state Health Department.

New Mexico university leader on Biden-Harris transition team

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu has been chosen as part of the transition team for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that Arvizu was approached to help the U.S. Department of Energy in the transition from the outgoing Trump administration to the Biden administration. He is also expected to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Arvizu said in his most recent university system-wide email that it is a volunteer position and is not associated with his university position. 

New Mexico Legislature considers 'hybrid' session for safety

SANTA FE, N.M. — Leading legislators in New Mexico say the next regular legislative session in early 2021 is likely to take place in a hybrid of in person and online. Democratic Senate majority leaders Peter Wirth of Santa Fe said Monday that a "huge piece" of the next session likely will be conducted online through video conferencing as a precaution against pandemic dangers. He noted that many local governments are conducting public business entirely online. The Democratic House speaker indicated that online committee hearings are likely and that the House will limit the number of bills that can be introduced by each member to five to streamline proceedings.

Officers fatally shoot man in SUV during barricade situation

FARMINGTON, N.M. — Authorities say an armed man was fatally shot by law enforcement officers from three different agencies during a barricade situation stemming from an incident of domestic violence in the Farmington area on Monday. The State Police said at least one San Juan County sheriff's deputy and officers from Farmington Police Department and the State Police shot a passenger in a parked SUV when he pointed a gun at the driver. No identities were released. Authorities had stopped the vehicle which was sought in connection with a reported beating of a woman by her husband, who was armed, the State Police said.

US AND GLOBAL NEWS BRIEFING

CAPITOL HILL

After months of stalemate, the big 4 (Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, & McCarthy) met face-to-face on Capitol Hill last night to negotiate a COVID-19 stimulus + omnibus govt funding combo deal. Treasury Secy Mnuchin also joined the meeting by phone to represent the White House. The lawmakers agreed they cannot go home for a holiday break until an agreement is reached. The continuous late night meetings yesterday indicate that progress is being made. Senate Minority Ldr Schumer says paper is being exchanged between parties and Senate Majority Ldr McConnell and House Minority Ldr McCarthy said a deal is getting closer. Negotiations likely continue today and the House will return to session in preparation for a vote on a combo omnibus/covid package when one is ready.

After months of gridlock, Republican & Democratic lawmakers are sprinting to the finish line to get a COVID economic relief deal before the end of the year when unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums expire. Pres Trump wants to see stimulus checks as part of a deal, but when asked if Trump would support a deal without direct payments, Press Secy Kayleigh McEnany told FBN there are no red lines. Senate Majority Ldr McConnell says lawmakers will not leave DC until there's a deal on COVID relief, and he hopes that they can tie it in with a bill to fund the govt. This is the closest all sides have been to a deal.

NEWS OF THE DAY / WILMINGTON

Joe Biden has selected Pete Buttigieg as his Transportation Secy. The fmr South Bend, IN, mayor helped boost the pres-elect's chances in the primaries by leaving the race and endorsing Biden ahead of Super Tuesday. We are also learning more about next month's inauguration. While Biden & VP-elect Harris will take their oaths of office outside the Capitol, they are asking people to stay home instead of traveling to DC on Jan 20th.

GA ELECTIONS

Pres-elect Biden stopped in Atlanta yesterday to campaign on behalf of Senate candidates Jon Ossoff & Raphael Warnock. VP Pence is the next A-list politician to visit the state, with a trip to support GOP Sens. Perdue & Loeffler, scheduled for tomorrow. Early voting is currently underway in the Jan 5 runoff elections, which will determine the balance of power in the Senate.

HUNTER BIDEN LATEST

With very little time left in this Congress, some leading lawmakers are already looking ahead to the new year and new Congress for their investigation of Hunter Biden and his business dealings. Republicans note for it to remain a front burner issue will require the GOP holding the majority in the Senate, which puts more pressure on the runoffs races in GA. If Democrats take the majority, Republicans worry Biden family business issues will become a low priority issue on Capitol Hill.

BIDEN PICKS SIGNAL CLIMATE BLITZ

Pres-elect Biden is going full force to focus his admin on climate. Biden is expected to choose fmr MI Gov Jennifer Granholm to lead the Energy Dept, tapping an advocate of renewable energy to fill the post, which will play a role in implementing his climate change policies. Meanwhile, Biden has also reportedly tapped fmr EPA Admin Gina McCarthy to oversee domestic climate policy in his admin. McCarthy, who served during Pres Obama's second term, will take a role designed to serve as a counterpart to special envoy John Kerry, who will represent the US as a "climate czar" on intl matters. We look at the costs of this bold climate change push and how Republicans are fighting this reversal of Trump's EPA rollback.

SOCIAL MEDIA ACCUSED OF ONE-SIDED POLICING 

As Facebook lifts its political ad ban for the GA runoffs, misinformation, from both sides of the aisle, is running rampant on social media platforms. One progressive PAC is intentionally deceiving Republican voters by claiming that Republicans David Perdue & Kelly Leoffler didn't deliver for Pres Trump, so voters shouldn't deliver for them. Conservatives note that posts from left-wing orgs like these are going unchecked, yet social media sites are quick to flag their posts. Plus, a new report from the Media Research Center shows since the end of May, Twitter flagged 486 posts from Pres Trump and the Trump campaign, but zero from Joe Biden. We take a closer look at how social media companies are policing misinformation and whether they are one-sided.

COVID CASES RISING

Coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise across the US, even as vaccines have brought new hope that the end of the pandemic is near. Millions of Americans are expected to travel over the upcoming holidays, and with the vaccine being months out for many people, there is concern that hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed into the new year. More than 16mil people have been infected with the virus in the US, and the death toll now tops 300,000, with more than one person dying every minute from COVID-19.

VACCINE & FAITH LEADERS / NEW YORK

City officials are calling on faith leaders across the country to help spread the message about the vaccine and educate their communities about getting the shot. But religious leaders say they face a difficult task persuading their parishioners to vaccinate, especially when their congregants are getting conflicting messages online.

FL SENIORS VACCINATED

A few dozen high-risk senior citizens living in a residential care home in South FL will be among the first group of folks who are not front-line healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the US. The vulnerable seniors and about 50 of their close-contact caregivers will be given the first round of the 2-part vaccination in a test program overseen by the FL Dept of Health. We are there for the trial run ahead of a potential statewide roll out of the vaccine to care homes.

RECOVERY ROADBLOCKS: FIGHTING THE DOWNTURN

Central bank officials are offering their assessment of how the economy has held up during the pandemic, as there are new questions over how quickly the economy will bounce back. As vaccines are boosting economic outlook in the US, the threat of new strict lockdowns are dragging down hopes of a quick and full recovery. So what options are left in the Fed's toolkit to fight a downturn? The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates at record lows, which is limiting the central bank's options for fighting a downturn. Pres-elect Biden's economic advisors are planning a big borrowing push as rates stay near 0, which is leading to long-term concerns among spending hawks.

INTERNATIONAL

-- Almost 10% of the Spanish population is estimated to have contracted coronavirus by the second half of Nov, according to a nationwide antibody survey, double the number who had antibodies in April-June. That extrapolates to 4.7mil Spaniards having been infected at some point, far more than the 1.75mil confirmed cases. Prevalence in Madrid was the highest of all Spanish regions, with 18.6% of the population testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

-- Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, & Switzerland have committed to a co-ordinated vaccination campaign launch when a vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency, which meets on Dec 21.

REPORT: FED EXECUTIONS WERE MORE THAN ALL 50 STATES FOR FIRST TIME IN U-S HISTORY

 A newly released report says the U.S. government for the first time has carried out more executions in a year than all states that still conduct executions. The report on executions in 2020 released Wednesday by the Death Penalty Information Center says the federal government carried out 10 executions this year compared to seven by all states with active death-penalty programs combined. Many states put the breaks on their execution programs because of a surge of coronavirus infections in prisons. Center director Robert Dunham says as far as the surge in federal executions is concerned, the country has "never seen it before" and may never see again after death-penalty opponent Joe Biden is inaugurated.

KS-MAYOR RESIGNS OVER THREATS FROM MASK MANDATES

A Kansas mayor announced Tuesday she has resigned over threats she’s been receiving after publicly supporting the city’s COVID-19 mask mandate. Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw told USA Today she feared for her safety after residents threatened her over the phone and email. “I understand people are under a lot of pressure from various things that are happening around society like the pandemic, the politics, the economy, so on and so forth, but I also believe that during these times people are acting not as they normally would,” Warshaw told the outlet. “I think it’s best for me and the city that I love to remove myself from the commission at this time and from the mayorship so that the city can move forward and be the best that it can be, because I believe in the city.”“We just felt like we had to do something so everybody was aware of how important it was for everybody to be responsible for each other’s health and well-being,” the mayor told the outlet. Dodge City police are investigating the threats against Warshaw.

ID-HEALTH BOARD REJECTS MASK MANDATE AND DISTANCING ORDER AMID PROTESTS

A proposed public health order that would have included a mask mandate for Idaho’s most populated region was voted down on Tuesday as hundreds of protesters again gathered outside the Central District Health building in Boise. A previous attempt to vote on the order — which would have mandated masks in public and required businesses to practice social distancing or face a misdemeanor — was abruptly halted last week at the request of Boise officials and police amid fears that protests were becoming too “intense.” One board member had to rush out after rowdy protesters at her residence loudly played a clip featuring gunfire from the movie “Scarface” while her child was alone inside. About 200 people gathered to protest at Central District Health on Tuesday, and police “were not involved in any events of significance,” department spokeswoman Haley Williams wrote in an email. The protests appeared largely peaceful, and police didn’t receive any reports of protesters gathering outside of board members’ homes. During the meeting, three board members from Elmore, Valley and Boise counties — the more rural counties in the region — all voted against the mask mandate, saying they had heard from constituents who were deeply opposed to the rule. Three board members from Ada County — the most populated county in the state — were in favor of the mandate, noting that Boise-area hospitals were reaching capacity because of an influx of COVID-19 patients, including many from neighboring counties.

NY STORM PREPS / NEW YORK

A major snowstorm making its way to the Northeast is expected to hit the NYC area this afternoon. Restaurants, hard hit by the pandemic and forced to close indoor dining Monday, now have to shut down outdoor service at 2pm due to the snow. The current forecasts say NYC could see anywhere from 8-12 inches of accumulation overnight tonight into tomorrow. More aggressive model shows areas north and west of the city getting closer to 2 feet. If more than a foot of snow is forecasted, the city could require some outside dining setups to be removed or made smaller for plows.

SNOW & PACKAGE DELIVERIES / QUEENS

Forecasters are warning this storm will hit hard and fast. That could disrupt travel and cause shipping delays right in the middle of the busiest holiday season. With the pandemic keeping people out of stores and companies like FedEx and UPS giving vaccine shipments priority over packages, there's concern all those gifts people are ordering online won't arrive on time. 

SHIP WRECK: STORM THREATENS VACCINES & GIFTS / NEW YORK

Much of the Northeast is bracing for their first snow storm in two years. Many cities, like NYC, Washington, & Philadelphia saw historically low amounts of snow last winter. It couldn't come at a worse time, with some fearing the storm could impede distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. Combined with the suspension of indoor dining, a snow storm will force some small business owners to shut down completely. This all as we get into crunch time for holiday deliveries in a much busier-than-normal online shopping season.

LA GOES SOFT ON CRIME

Crime victims are outraged by LA's new District Atty's plan to drop enhanced charges in hundreds of criminal cases awaiting trial. The directive by DA George Gascon would eliminate sentencing enhancements for gun possession, gang affiliation, and prior strikes, significantly reducing the length of prison sentences. This is one of the radical policies Gascon campaigned on, upsetting many career prosecutors.

PENTAGON / CHINA THREAT

FBI says it opens a new counterintelligence case vs China every 10 hrs. Of nearly 5,000 FBI counterintelligence cases, half are Chinese. Chinese theft of American intellectual property and data is the largest transfer of wealth in human history, according to FBI Dir Wray. Why does China want Americans' data?

UK / NEW CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS

Today is the first day of the latest Covid-19 Lockdown in London and other parts of England.  It's basically the third time this year the city has put restrictions in place due to the disease.  Pubs, Restaurants, Clubs and Hotels are closed due to rising cases.  The UK is not alone. As Germany hit a new level of daily deaths, close to a thousand, it starts today one of its toughest shut-downs of the pandemic.  Other European countries are following suit.  This as the EU has moved up its planned approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to Dec 21st. It was going to wait until the end of the year.    

FRANCE / ATTACKS VERDICT

A French court is scheduled to issue a verdict over the deadly 2015 attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, the first of multiple Islamic extremist attacks to rock France. Prosecutors are seeking sentences from five years to life in jail for 14 suspected accomplices of  Charlie Hebdo killers Cherif and Said Kouachi and supermarket hostage-taker Amedy Coulibaly.

RUSH ACROSS THE BORDER: ILLEGAL CROSSINGS UP AHEAD OF BIDEN PRESIDENCY

Another migrant caravan is heading to the southern US border as Pres-elect Biden prepares to take office next month. Just last month, nearly 70,000 illegal border crossings were recorded at the Southwest border, up 64% from last November. Biden has vowed to pledged to abolish many of the Trump Admin's immigration policies, including prolonged detention and family separations. We are live from the border in AZ, where there's a rush to complete Pres Trump's border wall, and take a closer look at the situation on our southern border and the cost of illegal immigration to US taxpayers. 

HOME RUN: REAL ESTATE'S REVIVAL

If you're a homeowner right now, you may be richer than you think. A new report by financial services company Corelogic shows US mortgage owners have seen an equity increase of nearly 11% year over year. That's an average gain of $17,000 per homeowner, a collective equity gain of $1tril, and the largest appreciation gain in 6 yrs, all despite the stress of the pandemic. If you need any more evidence of the strength of the market, underwater mortgages are declining, foreclosures dropped to generational low in Sept, and mortgage rates remain near historic lows. The big question is what will homeowners do with this newfound equity? Will they sit on it or sell?

FRANCE ATTACKS VERDICT

A French court is scheduled to issue a verdict over the deadly 2015 attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, the first of multiple Islamic extremist attacks to rock France. Prosecutors are seeking sentences from five years to life in jail for 14 suspected accomplices of  Charlie Hebdo killers Cherif and Said Kouachi and supermarket hostage-taker Amedy Coulibaly.

BREXIT DEAL?

Britain and the EU are heading towards a trade deal that will satisfy Brexit supporters, according to BBC reports yesterday.

MOON ROCKS RETURN TO EARTH

China's Chang'e 5 spacecraft is expected to return to earth, carrying with it rocks collected from the moon, in the first bid by any country to retrieve lunar surface samples since the 1970s, a mission underscoring Chinese ambitions in space.

VATICAN ENVOY VERDICT

A French court rules on whether to convict a former Vatican envoy of sexual assault. Multiple men accused Archbishop Luigi Ventura of groping and inappropriate touching when he was ambassador to France, though he has denied wrongdoing.

‘ROCK OF TALK’ DEBATE OF THE DAY

The San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee is recommending that President Abraham Lincoln's name be removed from a local high school because of his treatment of Native Americans, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Lincoln High School is one of many schools that the committee contends have problematic names, with others including George Washington High School, Herbert Hoover Middle School and Paul Revere K-8. Committee chairman Jeremiah Jeffries told the Chronicle, "The discussion for Lincoln centered around his treatment of First Nation peoples because that was offered first. Once he met criteria in that way, we did not belabor the point." Among the criticisms of Lincoln relative to Native Americans are constructing the transcontinental railroad, which affected their lands, and refusing to commute the sentences of 39 Native Americans sentenced to hanging. But Jeffries was also critical of Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, for his treatment of Black people, telling the Chronicle that he, quote, "like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that Black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building." The criteria the school names committee looked at that would be problematic included: being slave owners, known racists or white supremacists; being directly involved in colonization; and being connected to human rights or environmental abuses.

  • What do you think of the schools committee recommending that Lincoln's name be removed from a local high school because of his treatment of Native Americans, which they say is problematic?

  • What do you think of the committee chairman also criticizing Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, for his treatment of Black people?

  • What do you think of the committee also concluding that schools named after George Washington, Herbert Hoover and Paul Revere, among others, are problematic?

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