SUDDENLY, NEWSOM SPRINTS TO REOPEN CALIFORNIA… BASED ON SECRET DATA… GOP SMELLS RECALL FEAR… AP: California lifts virus stay-at-home orders, curfew statewide
California lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, returning the state to a system of county-by-county restrictions.
The order had been in place in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, covering the majority of the state’s counties.
The change allows restaurants and churches to resume outdoor operations and hair and nail salons to reopen in many areas, though local officials could choose to impose stricter rules. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. […]
The state makes its decisions based on four-week projections showing ICU capacity improving, but officials have not disclosed the data behind the forecasts. […]
Republicans said Newsom was relaxing the rules in response to political pressure and the threat of a recall. Republican organizers have until mid-March to gather 1.5 million signatures to force a recall against Newsom, who is halfway through his first term.
1.2 MILLION REASONS TO SWEAT… Petition To Recall Gavin Newsom Reaches 1.2 Million Signatures
Over 1.2 million California residents have signed a petition to recall incumbent California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom as of Monday. […]
California state law requires the signatures of 1.5 million residents to force a recall special election between the incumbent governor and other gubernatorial candidates. The last governor of the golden state to be successfully recalled was Grey Davis, who lost a recall special election to Republican challenger and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.
AMERICA’S BIGGEST TEACHERS UNION FOMENTING DOUBTS ABOUT VACCINE… NYT: Biden Is Vowing to Reopen Schools Quickly. It Won’t Be Easy.
Given the seemingly intractable health and labor challenges, some district officials have begun to say out loud what was previously unthinkable: that schools may not be operating normally for the 2021-22 school year. And some labor leaders are seeking to tamp down the expectations Mr. Biden’s words have raised.
“We don’t know whether a vaccine stops transmissibility,” said Randi Weingarten, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union.
Some virus experts, however, have said there is reason to be optimistic on this question. […]
But Ms. Weingarten also indicated that Mr. Biden’s efforts to fill classrooms would be greeted more favorably than those of Donald J. Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who were largely reviled by public school educators.
CHICAGO TEACHERS REFUSE TO GO BACK, KEEP GETTING PAID… FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA TEACHERS KICK GOAL POSTS INTO NEXT YEAR… REASON: Chicago Teachers Union Refuses Order To Go Back to Classrooms
The union has previously claimed that the push to reopen schools is rooted in “sexism and racism,” even though the inadequacies of virtual education are disproportionately harming young people of color and forcing hundreds of thousands of women to exit the work force. And when the district decided to hire 2,000 new employees to assist students in the classroom if their teachers opt to continue with distance learning, the union objected to that plan, too. […]
Completely unreasonable behavior is not solely the province of Chicago’s teachers: In Fairfax, Virginia, teachers union boss Kimberly Adams expressed opposition to five-day in-person learning next fall, even if all the teachers have been vaccinated. In an email to Reason, Adams confirmed that she believes the hybrid model—two days of in-person learning and three days of virtual learning—should remain in place.
“Concern remains that students will not be vaccinated before they return to school,” said Adams. “This requires that we maintain the hybrid model and continue social distancing, masking and all the other mitigation strategies.”
Of course, there’s no plan to vaccinate most students—because the vaccines aren’t even approved for kids younger than 16. What Adams is suggesting is essentially that schools should remain mostly virtual indefinitely.
ROBBY SOAVE: Fairfax’s teachers union boss allegedly said she wants to keep the hybrid model (2 days in school, 3 at home) even in the fall after teachers are vaccinated. That’s so absurd that I naively thought she was misquoted. So I reached out for comment and… that IS her position!
RORY COOPER, PARENT OF 3 FAIRFAX COUNTY STUDENTS, WRITING IN WAPO: Fairfax County should open schools or stop vaccinating teachers
The Fairfax County school system demanded and then received high-priority placement for teachers and administrators to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Those vaccines began a week ago, and, according to the Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand, 5,000 teachers have received their first dose and an additional 22,000 teachers are registered to receive their first dose soon. […]
The union says that all students must also be vaccinated. Never mind that no current vaccine has been approved for use on children under the age of 14. Adams also wants 14 days of zero community spread. Neither of these goals is likely to occur this calendar year. The excuses pile up faster than the half-inch of snow that typically shuts down school operations. […]
Countless people with serious health risks may not see a vaccine for months. They were told to wait for the teachers. And now school administrators simply don’t want to make good on the promise of their position in the vaccine line. It’s time to open the schools full time or get new administrators. Really, we should do both.
FAIRFAX BARELY HAS ENOUGH SHOTS TO KEEP UP RIGHT NOW… WJLA: Vaccine shortage will delay some Fairfax County schools staff from getting first dose
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (ABC7) — Inova Health says it does not have enough vaccines for Fairfax County Public Schools employees who were planning on getting their first doses Tuesday to do so.
They have to keep enough shots on hand to guarantee second doses for staff who have already gotten their first shots.
More than 5,000 FCPS employees have already received their first dose, and will be prioritized to get their second dose.
LOCKDOWNS CRUSHED BABYMAKING IN 2020… NBC: There’s No Coronavirus Baby Boom — It’s More Like a Baby Bust
Not even locking couples up and obliterating their social calendars could convince more Americans to have babies, as our quarantine-inspired baby boom has failed to materialize.
Instead, America has entered a pandemic-inspired baby bust.
Several states that keep track of births in near-real-time – as well as some hospital systems contacted by NBCLX – recorded significant drops in Dec. 2020 birth rates, compared to the same period from one year earlier. That includes Florida (down 8% from Dec. 2019); Ohio (down 7%); and Arizona (down 5%).
The most significant social distancing measures went into place across much of the U.S. in mid-March. Most babies conceived after mid-March would start being born in late December.
“This is a bad situation,” said Philip Cohen, a sociologist and demographer at the University of Maryland. “The declines we’re seeing now are… pretty substantial.”
FLASHBACK… MORE DETAILS…
BLOOMBERG REPORTER STEVE MATTHEWS: America’s population is growing at the slowest rate since World War II, according to new Census data cited by @StLouisFed. In 2021, birth rates will likely be “shockingly low” […]
ST LOUIS FED: “2020 growth will likely be the slowest annual population increase in U.S. history outside of wartime.”
COVID CRUSH AND DRUG ODs PUMMEL BIRTH RATE… BLOOMBERG: U.S. Population Is Growing at Slowest Pace Since World War II
The population increased 0.35% in the first half of 2020, based on preliminary estimates by the Census Bureau, slowing for a fifth consecutive year. In California, the largest state in the nation, growth has essentially stagnated while in many large cities it has reversed.
The data suggests that the population is on track to expand much more slowly than the Census Bureau envisaged in 2017, the last time it published long-term projections. That means a smaller labor force and less demand for business equipment, housing and other capital goods, according to William Emmons, an economist at the St. Louis Fed. The decline in investment demand may help to keep interest rates low, he wrote.
Birth and death rates along with immigration all impact population growth. U.S. births reached a peak of about 4.32 million in 2007, then declined to 3.75 million by 2019.
Some analysts predict the coronavirus recession will depress births even further, possibly by as much as half a million. In 2021, rates will likely be “shockingly low,” Philip Cohen, sociologist at the University of Maryland, said in a blog post. […]
Meanwhile, U.S. deaths have been on the rise as the population grows and ages — and Covid-19 accelerated the trend. Research also suggests that drug overdoses picked up during the pandemic.
BIDEN BARS MILLIONS OF FOREIGNERS FROM US… NBC: Biden reinstates Covid travel restrictions Trump rescinded, imposes new ban on South Africa
President Joe Biden signed restrictions Monday on travel to the United States to mitigate Covid-19 transmission.
The ban prevents most non-U.S. citizens from entry if they have recently been in South Africa, where a new strain of Covid-19 has been identified. The virus has killed more than 420,000 people and infected upward of 25 million across the U.S., according to an NBC News tracker.
Biden additionally reinstated broader restrictions that were in effect much of the past year but were rescinded by President Donald Trump days before his term ended. The limits affect non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United Kingdom, Ireland and much of Europe in what is known as the Schengen countries, which share a common visa process. Travelers from Brazil would also be affected.
@DAILYCALLER: .@PressSec is asked about the administration implementing travel restrictions when then-candidate Biden calling President Trump’s travel restrictions on China “xenophobic” “I don’t think that’s a fair articulation.” (VIDEO)
FLASHBACK… @DAILYCALLER: Aft
NY TIMES BILLS FAUCI AS FEARLESS TRUTH TELLER… @NYTIMES: As the coronavirus ravaged the country, Dr. Fauci’s calm counsel and commitment to hard facts endeared him to millions of Americans. But he also became a villain to millions of others.
BUT HE RECENTLY ADMITTED TO LYING… IN A NYT INTERVIEW! CHUCK ROSS: He admitted to the New York Times a few weeks ago that he lied to the American public about the herd immunity threshold because he didn’t think we could handle the truth.
Mayor Calls In Chick-Fil-A Manager To Help Speed Up Drive-Thru Vaccine Site
The mayor of a South Carolina town was forced to call in a pro when a drive-thru coronavirus vaccination site got backed up.
The hero? A local Chick-fil-A manager.
A computer glitch caused a backup at the Mount Pleasant vaccination site on Friday, KLUV reported. But Mayor Will Haynie wasn’t about to let a computer glitch stop vaccinations from happening. Haynie called Chick-fil-A manager Jerry Walkowiak to bring his “professional drive thru experience” to help speed things along, Haynie tweeted.
“When you need help, call the pros,” Haynie said.
Without missing a beat, Walkowiak got to work straight away, standing in the rain and ensuring that people driving up to the site had their paperwork already prepared before he waved them on to the next step of the vaccine process, the video shows.
“Do you have your paperwork yet? He’s gonna help you right there,” Walkowiak said.
‘IT WOULD DWARF ALL PREVIOUS GRANT PROGRAMS OF ITS KIND’ … BIDEN TO USE COVID FUNDS TO JUICE CLIMATE CHANGE AGENDA… NYT: New U.S. Strategy Would Quickly Free Billions in Climate Funds
WASHINGTON — Federal officials, showing how rapidly the Biden administration is overhauling climate policy after years of denial under former President Donald J. Trump, aim to free up as much as $10 billion at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to protect against climate disasters before they strike.
The agency, best known for responding to hurricanes, floods and wildfires, wants to spend the money to pre-emptively protect against damage by building seawalls, elevating or relocating flood-prone homes and taking other steps as climate change intensifies storms and other natural disasters.
“It would dwarf all previous grant programs of its kind,” said Daniel Kaniewski, a former deputy administrator at FEMA and now a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Companies, a consulting firm.
The FEMA plan would use a budgeting maneuver to repurpose a portion of the agency’s overall disaster spending toward projects designed to protect against damage from climate disasters, according to people familiar with discussions inside the agency.
In the past year FEMA has taken a leading role in fighting Covid-19 — and the agency’s plan is to count that Covid spending toward the formula used to redirect money to climate projects. Doing so would allow the Biden administration to quickly and drastically increase climate-resilience funding without action by Congress, generating a windfall that could increase funding more than sixfold.
WAPO: Biden likely to halt new fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and waters Wednesday
President Biden is poised to impose a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing Wednesday, according to three individuals briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan was still being finalized. The move will deliver on one of Biden’s boldest climate campaign pledges but will encounter stiff resistance from the fossil fuel industry.
The White House has prepared documents that would halt new oil and gas auctions on federal lands and waters as the new administration reviews the program, these individuals said. The moratorium would not affect existing leases, meaning drilling would continue on public land in the West as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. […]
About 22 percent of U.S. oil production and 12 percent of natural gas production takes place on federal lands and waters, according to API.
“Joe Biden will not end fracking. He has been very clear about that,” Harris said. The California senator also denied that Biden supports the Green New Deal, while attacking the Trump administration’s record on climate change and claiming “they don’t believe in science.”
Neal Crabtree, a welding foreman who began working on pipeline construction as an apprentice in 1997, was dismayed when he heard the news. […]
A member of Pipeliners Local Union 798, one of four unions whose members will be left without work due to the pipeline’s cancellation, the 46-year-old welder from Arkansas was among the first to be laid off following the order. At the time the cross-border permits for the pipeline were rescinded, he and his team were in Nebraska working on a pump station for Keystone XL.
In a Facebook post from Wednesday, Crabtree wrote he felt “a sick feeling in my stomach and an aching in my heart,” and admitted to breaking down and crying in his truck after laying off his team. […]
“Just like the rest of the country, COVID hurt us bad. We had a lot of projects canceled,” he told Fox News. “We’ve got guys that haven’t worked in months, and in some cases years, and to have a project of this magnitude canceled, it’s going to hurt a lot of people, a lot of families, a lot of communities.”
LAST WEDNESDAY… NEAL CRABTREE’S FACEBOOK POST…
I build pipelines, I’m use to layoffs. We start projects knowing that once it’s complete, we’re getting laid off. We depend on these temporary projects tho to make a career. What happened today was different. I got laid off for political reasons and stupidity and the future doesn’t look so bright. I’ve got a sickening feeling in my stomach tonight and a aching feeling in my heart that I’ve never felt. At the end of every job I always s￼hake the hands of the people I hire and the people that are sent from our Unions out of work list before they’re laid off. We laugh and smile and are proud of a job well done. Today it wasn’t like that, I laid guys off because the President doesn’t won’t them to work. I went to my truck and literally cried.
Biden Signs Executive Order Killing Trump’s 2018 Ban On Transgender Military Service
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday reversing former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the United States military.
“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the White House wrote in a statement announcing the move. “The military is no exception. Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest.”
The order itself reverses Trump’s 2018 Presidential Memorandum on Military Service by Transgender Individuals and specifically “prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity.”
MATTHEW BETLEY, FORMER MARINE:Bye, bye, unit cohesion, good order, and discipline.
The people supporting this reversal have no idea what it’s like to actually serve in the military. This is just another woke, short-sighted policy. In the military, you conform to the organization, not the other way around. That’s a fact, and this policy undermines it.
Tapper brought that up Monday and asked Swalwell, “Have you learned any more about this case since this broke in early December? And can you clarify how much contact you had with this Chinese national?”
Swalwell responded, “The FBI has said that I did nothing wrong. Don’t take it from me. There was no wrongdoing. I’ve learned nothing new. And Speaker Pelosi has said she is keeping me on the committee. By the way, Jake, Republicans were briefed on this conduct, that this individual was trying to do with me and many other members of congress, back in 2015. I think this is retaliation more than anything else.”
MODERATE DEMS SET TO SAVE THE FILIBUSTER… Kyrsten Sinema Won’t Support Eliminating Filibuster, ‘Not Open To Changing Her Mind’
Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will not support eliminating the filibuster and her mind cannot be changed, according to a spokesperson.
As Democrats now control the House, Senate and White House, there has been discussion about possibly voting to eliminate the filibuster. Abolishing the filibuster would allow any legislation to pass with a simple majority. With Sinema coming out against abolishing the filibuster, it makes it highly unlikely it could happen, as Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has also said he will not vote to do so.
“Kyrsten is against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster,” a spokesperson for Sinema told the Washington Post on Monday.
Sen. Rob Portman Announces He Will Not Run For Reelection In 2022
Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman announced Monday he will not seek reelection in 2022, becoming the latest GOP senator to say they will not run for another term.
“I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision,” Portman said, according to The Enquirer.
Portman would have been running for his third term in 2022.
Virginia Rule Allowing Late Ballots Missing Postmark Was Illegal, Court Rules
The Virginia Board of Elections rule allowing officials to count ballots that arrived without a postmark up to three days after the election was illegal, a state judge ruled.
Virginia Circuit Court Judge William Eldridge ruled the state’s late mail-in ballot law violated state statute and permanently banned the law in future Virginia elections, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) announced Monday. PILF sued the state’s board of elections in October on behalf of Thomas Reed, a Frederick County, Virginia election official.
“This is a big win for the Rule of Law,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said in a statement. “This consent decree gives Mr. Reed everything he requested – a permanent ban on accepting ballots without postmarks after Election Day and is a loss for the Virginia bureaucrats who said ballots could come in without these protections.” […]
On Oct. 28, one week before the Nov. 3 federal elections, Eldridge blocked the law due to the PILF lawsuit. Virginia was therefore prevented from counting late ballots without postmarks, PILF spokesperson Logan Churchwell told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
BIDEN GIVES IMPEACHMENT THUMBS UP… Biden Says Senate Impeachment Trial ‘Has To Happen’
President Joe Biden told CNN on Monday that the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump “has to happen.”
“I think it has to happen,” Biden told CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins in a brief White House interview, offering what CNN called the president’s “most extensive comments” on the subject since assuming office last week.
While Biden acknowledged that his Cabinet picks and legislative agenda would be negatively affected by an impeachment trial, he told the network there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.”
Biden expressed doubt, however, that the outcome would result in 17 GOP senators voting for a conviction with Trump currently out of office. “The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” he told CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is necessary to bring healing, The Hill tweeted Monday.
“Everyone wants to put this awful chapter in American history behind us. But sweeping it under the rug will not bring healing. The only way to bring healing is to actually have real accountability, which this trial affords,” Schumer said in a video The Hill tweeted.
CNN: Leahy, not Roberts, expected to preside over impeachment trial as House to send article to Senate on Monday
The contours of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial are starting to take shape, with the Senate’s longest-serving Democrat expected to preside over the trial and Democrats still weighing whether to pursue witnesses during proceedings that could take up a chunk of February.
Chief Justice John Roberts will not be presiding like he did for Trump’s first impeachment trial, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the President pro tempore of the Senate, is expected to preside, the sources said. The Constitution says the chief justice presides when the person facing trial is the current president of the United States, but senators preside in other cases, one source said.
RAND PAUL: I object to this unconstitutional sham of an “impeachment” trial and I will force a vote on whether the Senate can hold a trial of a private citizen.
Republicans should reject any process that involves a partisan Democrat in the chair instead of the Chief Justice.
@THEDAILYBEAST: EXCLUSIVE: More than 100 Politico staffers signed onto a letter sent to publisher Robert Allbritton, expressing disgust with allowing right-wing firebrand Ben Shapiro to guest-author one day’s edition of the Playbook
WSJ: Apollo CEO Leon Black to Step Down Following Review of Jeffrey Epstein Ties
Leon Black plans to step down as chief executive of Apollo Global Management Inc. after an independent review revealed larger-than-expected payments to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein that it nevertheless deemed justified.
The monthslong review by Dechert LLP found no evidence that Mr. Black was involved in the criminal activities of the late Epstein, who was indicted in 2019 on federal sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls, according to the law firm’s report, which was disclosed in a securities filing Monday.
In its report, Dechert found the fees that the billionaire had paid Epstein were for legitimate advice on trust- and estate-tax planning that proved to be of significant value to Mr. Black and his family. Mr. Black paid Epstein a total of $148 million, plus a $10 million donation to his charity—far more than was previously known.
CALLING ALL PATRIOTS: President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday reversing former President Donald Trump’s 2018 ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military. “President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the White House said in a statement. What do you think, Patriots? Do you support transgender people in the military? Let us know in the form.