The Rock of Talk 'Daily Blast' for Monday, November 23rd, 2020
The Top 10 links of the day, New Mexico News Snapshot and Global and US Daily News Snapshot
“The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.” -Milton Friedman
Here are today’s Top 10 articles you need to read, New Mexico News Snapshot and Global and US Daily News Snapshot from ‘The Rock of Talk‘
New Mexico News Snapshot
CUBA, N.M. - The switch to remote learning in rural New Mexico has left some students profoundly isolated - cut off from others and the grid by sheer distance. In the village of Cuba, New Mexico, population 800, the school system is sending school buses to students' homes over an hour away to bring them assignments, meals and a little human contact. On the fringe of the Navajo Nation, many families have no electricity, let alone internet. It is yet another way in which the pandemic has exposed the gap between the haves and have-nots in the U.S.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - New Mexico hospitals face a capacity crunch because of the coronavirus outbreak, so the state on Friday opened an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in a renovated former hospital in Albuquerque. The state Department of Health said the Gibson Medical Center will serve adults who don't require acute care. The facility won't have an emergency hospital, intensive care unit or surgic al suite. It initially will provide 25 beds for patients needing nursing care and an additional 25 beds for isolation or quarantine. Capacity can be expanded to up to 180 beds. State health officials on Friday reported 2,993 new positive COVID-19 tests and 23 related deaths.
ROSWELL, N.M. - Law enforcement officers arrested 100 people in southeastern New Mexico as federal, state and local agencies conducted a roundup over several days, officials said. U.S. Marshal Sonya Chavez said Friday the arrests made in Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties were part of a national effort to apprehend violent criminals sought on felony arrest warrants. The Roswell Daily Record reported that the 15 participating agencies included the New Mexico State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security, sheriff's departments and the Roswell Police Department. Chavez said three similar operations have taken place in the past 18 months in the Las Cruces and Albuquerque areas.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Some essential businesses such as grocery stores have been shut down because of a substantial increase in coronavirus cases in New Mexico. A new edict announced Thursday allows the state Department of Health to shut down workplaces for two weeks if they have four or more coronavirus cases in a 14-day period. More than 20 essential businesses across the state were shut down as of Friday, of which nearly half were grocery stores or major retailers. A Department of Health spokeswoman said the current closures are not considered critical because they are in communities with "considerable alternatives." The state on Saturday reported 2,342 additional COVID-19 cases and 25 more deaths.
Global and US Daily News Snapshot
VACCINES & TEENS
With vaccine candidates from Pfizer & Moderna showing positive results in adults, it remains to be seen how the vaccine will protect children. Researchers are trying to better understand how Pfizer's experimental vaccine, that appears to be nearly 95% effective in adults, according to data, performs in children. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital recently tested COVID vaccines on the youngest volunteers thus far. The Pfizer vaccine has been distributed to 100 children as young as 12 yrs old. Many say this part of the trial is key to opening up schools, but there's debate over parents who are leery of getting their children vaccinated, even after approval.
BIDEN EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE A NUMBER OF CABINET PICKS THIS WEEK
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons. Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January. Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Advisers to the president-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.
US PULLS OUT OF "OPEN SKIES" TREATY
The Trump administration has officially withdrawn from a decades-old arms agreement with Russia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. “Today, pursuant to earlier notice provided, the United States withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies is now effective. America is more secure because of it, as Russia remains in non-compliance with its obligations,” the US’ top diplomat said in a Twitter posting. The treaty, signed in 1992 and put in effect in 2002, allows nations to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territories. The Trump administration, which had been reviewing the pact for the past six months and determined that Russia violated the treaty numerous times, informed Moscow last Thursday that it intended to pull out. “During the course of this review it has become abundantly clear that it is no longer in America’s interests to remain a party to the Open Skies Treaty,” according to an administration official.The Kremlin has not been allowing flights over Moscow and Chechnya, as well as near Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The FDA authorized the emergency use of a second antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19. The Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc drug is the experimental medicine that President Donald Trump was given when he was sick last month. Meanwhile, the head of Operation Warp Speed says first immunizations could happen on Dec. 12. An FDA advisory committee is set to meet Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.'s request for an emergency use authorization for its developing vaccine. This comes as states across the country impose new restrictions to fight the spread. Here in NY Gov Cuomo announced Sunday that several communities across the state are likely to face varying levels of new restrictions this week. He's opted for a "micro-cluster" strategy that targets communities with high positivity rates instead of regional or statewide shutdowns.
LONG TESTING LINES / DALLAS
As millions of Americans get ready for Thanksgiving, people across the country are lining up to get tested for COVID-19 before heading off to celebrate the holiday with their families. Although cases in nearly all states are soaring, and the CDC is advising people to stay home and not take part in large family gatherings, it's expected that many still plan to get together with people outside of their household - and with test results often taking several days to come in, this could be one of the biggest testing days of the pandemic so far.
CALIFORNIA CURFEW PROTESTS / LA
Small crowds of people turned out over the weekend to protest a new nightly curfew that covers most of CA. While some sheriff's are refusing to enforce to enforce the curfew, LA's department is planning to use it as an opportunity to educate people about the surge in new Covid cases. The modified stay at home order prohibits nonessential activity outside the home from 10pm to 5am.
FOOD BANKS AHEAD OF THANKSGIVING / MIAMI
Food banks across America are facing high demand from families this year, as COVID-19 has strained the economy and household budgets. As the Thanksgiving holidays approach, long lines are forming at food pantries around the country.
INTERNATIONAL VACCINE EFFORTS
- AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed that its COVID-19 vaccine with Oxford University was up to 90% effective in preventing disease. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70%.
- Germany's IDT Biologika plans to start a phase II trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year and hopes to be able to apply for approval in 2021, its Chief Executive said on Monday
- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a national COVID-19 vaccination plan will be launched in January. Sanchez said the vaccine will be administered at 13,000 locations across Spain and "a very substantial part of the population" can be vaccinated in the first half of next year.
TRAVELERS IGNORE CDC'S "NO TRAVEL" PLEA / CHICAGO
With coronavirus cases spiking again, the CDC is pleading with Americans not to travel this Thanksgiving. The CDC issued this recommendation after steep increases in diagnosis, hospitalization, and deaths. AAA was already predicting half as many air travelers this Thanksgiving compared to last. However, some people are willing to take their chances and fly the friendly (or not so friendly) skies. Air travel had been gaining momentum, but now what?
ECONOMY HELD UP DURING LOCKDOWNS / ORLANDO
With a second wave of COVID looming, states & cities are approaching the pandemic very differently. While states like NY, CA, & MI are reinstating severe lockdowns, some officials, like TX Gov Abbott & FL Gov DeSantis, are keeping their states open and allowing their residents to decide for themselves how they will navigate around the pandemic. This is sparking a new debate over how to juggle keeping the economy afloat while still keeping residents safe.
NATIONAL PARK TURNS INTO SUPER TESTING SITE / WASHINGTON
Washington, DC, is turning the Nationals' baseball stadium into a mega COVID testing site ahead of Thanksgiving, as cases surge to new records. Demand for testing is climbing as Americans want to gather with families for Turkey day even as the CDC has strongly urged Americans to stay home and have dinner with members that live in the same household. The expanded testing comes as the incoming Biden Admin plots a massive expansion of US testing capacity that would focus on detecting asymptomatic people before they turn into super spreaders.
SAN JOSE STABBINGS
Two people are dead and multiple people were injured in a stabbing Sunday night at a church being used as a homeless shelter.
No church services were underway at the time of the stabbing. It is unknown whether the suspect is in custody. Police plan to give updates later in the day.
WISCONSIN MALL SHOOTING
Wauwatosa police said a 15-year-old was arrested in Friday's shooting at Mayfair Mall that injured 8. Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said in an update on Sunday, Nov. 22 this was an altercation between two groups, injuring four “innocent bystanders." A Wauwatosa Police Department spokeswoman added Sunday: "Several arrests have been made, but we are still investigating those." Chief Weber said the 15-year-old is Hispanic -- and a firearm was recovered at the scene of his arrest. Weber said he didn’t release photos of the alleged shooter to preserve the investigation and because an initial investigation did not reveal an immediate danger to the public. The chief offered few details on the arrest, only that it took place after the young man had left the mall property on foot after Friday's shooting. A Wauwatosa Police Department spokeswoman said he was arrested Saturday night following the execution of search warrants. Chief Weber said he believes the boy was arrested during a traffic stop.
GEORGIA STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS MORE EMERGENCY RULES AHEAD JANUARY RUNOFF ELECTION
The State Election Board on Monday will consider three emergency rules governing the processing of ballots and voter registrations that would affect the January runoff election. The first would extend an authorization for counties across the state to provide drop boxes for absentee ballots — an authorization made last spring and renewed in July. Counties must use video recording to monitor the boxes and adopt other security measures. The second proposal would modify another rule approved earlier this year. It would require counties to begin processing absentee ballots — but not counting them — a week and a day before Election Day. The existing rule merely allows counties to begin processing ballots early, but it does not require it. The third proposed rule directs counties to “review all available evidence” to determine whether someone registering to vote is a Georgia resident. Among other things, local registrars may consider whether the applicant has a valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card, whether they have a motor vehicle registered in the state and whether they have paid the required title ad valorem tax on the vehicle as required when moving to Georgia.
BIDEN CABINET / WILMINGTON
Biden awaits the GSA's ascertainment but his transition moves ahead nonetheless. Transition officials said Sunday that several cabinet positions would be announced on Tuesday as Delaware's most famous resident firms up his administration.
The Trump Campaign is appealing after a Pennsylvania federal district court tossed out its lawsuit over the weekend. The appeal was filed the day before Pennsylvania's Monday deadline for counties to certify their election results. In his dismissal, Judge Matthew Brann issued a striking opinion that said the Trump Campaign was trying to disenfranchise 7 million voters in Pennsylvania and the judge characterized Rudy Giuliani's case as speculative accusations unsupported by evidence.
Michigan's elections board will meet virtually today on what would normally be a routine certification of the state's presidential election results. However, there is uncertainty about whether the Board of Canvassers - comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans - could end up deadlocking after weeks of partisan fighting in the state over voting irregularities and unsuccessful challenges by the Trump campaign to change the state's election results. Michigan's Secretary of State says she has no reason to believe the canvassers will not carry out their duty on behalf of Michigan voters, but there have been reports that at least one of the Republicans may vote against certification.
BIDEN "GUN TAX" FLOATED / WILMINGTON
Biden is looking to rein in guns and he's looking to use a tax to do it. Gun owners in the US could face a $200 tax under a Biden Admin if they don't participate in a gun buyback program or register their firearm under the National Firearms Act, which requires the payment of a $200 tax. That's just one of the proposals under Biden's policy prescription to stem gun violence in America. Biden wants to also enact legislation to end all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts. Americans for Tax Reform is declaring this another violation of Biden's pledge not to tax anyone with income under $400,000.
WORK FROM HOME PAY CUTS? / SAN FRANCISCO
Many tech workers are used to earning large paychecks while working for some of the most valuable companies in the world. Since COVID shut down most offices, tech companies are embracing full-time remote work, and many employees are leaving the Bay Area for less expensive cities. For some, moving away from Silicon Valley comes with a catch: a pay cut. Tech firms are increasingly opting for a "pay localization" policy, arguing that a lower cost of living should mean less bottom-line compensation. It's a move one CEO calls an employee benefit.
FORD MUSTANG GOES ELECTRIC / YPSILANTI
Ford's all-electric Mustang Mach-E will hit showrooms before the end of the year. It's the legacy automaker's first crack at cutting into Tesla's massive share of the electric vehicle market. The company is pairing its new EVs with iconic brands, first with the Mustang Mach-E, and by 2022, with an all-electric version of its top-selling F-150. But competition in the EV space is heating up. In addition to several EV startups, GM is also investing $27bil to roll out 20 EVs in the US by 2025.
EARLY HOLIDAY DECORATION RUSH CAUSING SHORTAGE / NEW YORK
People are getting into the Christmas spirit more than ever this year, and the rush of shoppers is causing a shortage of holiday staples like trees & lights. According to some Christmas decor companies, they have seen sales as much as 200% higher than last year, and they are urging customers to shop early for their Christmas decorations. Big retailers are taking note; Walmart & Home Depot are offering a service where people can order their tree online and have it delivered to their home for free, and they can even order light installation.
SUPREME COURT TODAY
The Supreme Court issues orders: Azar vs. Gresham & AR vs. Gresham (Medicaid work requirements); US vs. Cooley (Native American police authority); and Hunt vs. Board of Regents of the Univ of New Mexico (First Amendment).
HONG KONG ACTIVIST IN COURT
Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong appears in court over charges of inciting and organizing a protest outside a police station last year.