[guest post by Dana]
Here are a few news items that might interest you. Please feel free to include anything you think would interest readers. Make sure to include links.
First news item
A senior administration official told CNN that when the administration announced that it would be releasing reserved doses Friday, many of those reserves had already been released into the system starting last year as production was ramping up.
When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was asked Friday whether there is in fact a reserve of second doses left to release, he said, “No. There’s not a reserve stockpile.”
“We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we’re not sitting on a reserve anymore,” he said in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. “We’ve made that available to the states to order.”
The revelation appears to contradict what Azar announced on Tuesday at an Operation Warp Speed briefing, where he said the administration would be “releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve.”
And it adds another level of confusion for state officials, who have scrambled to distribute the vaccines after being tasked to do so by the federal government.
Second news item
Responding to warnings of potentially violent demonstrations, governors across the nation are calling out National Guard troops, declaring states of emergency and closing their capitols to the public ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
Though details remain murky, demonstrations are expected at state capitols beginning Sunday and leading up to Biden’s succession of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. State officials hope to avoid the type of violence that occurred Jan. 6[.]
Third news item
President Donald Trump plans to make the unprecedented move to depart the White House next Wednesday morning, just before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration…
Trump has requested a large sendoff to be planned for the morning of Jan. 20, sources said, after he choppers via Marine One to Joint Base Andrews, where he is expected to give remarks to supporters and departing members of his administration.
Sources add that Trump has requested his departure ceremony to have a “military-like feel,” although details are not finalized.
He hopes to depart to the blare of a military band, with a red carpet and military honors, according to sources briefed on the plans. Even some sort of military flyover has been suggested, they said.
Fourth news item
Dorothy Schmidt Cole, recognized last year as the oldest living U.S. Marine, has died at age 107.
Beth Kluttz, Cole’s only child, confirmed Friday that her mother died of a heart attack at Kluttz’s home in Kannapolis, North Carolina, on Jan. 7.
The Charlotte Observer reports Cole enlisted as one of the earliest female Marine reservists following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She had left her Ohio home to head to Pittsburgh, where she hoped to volunteer for the Navy, but because she was only 4 feet, 11 inches tall, she was deemed too short to meet Navy standards.
Undaunted by her rejection, Cole decided to learn how to fly an airplane and persuade the Marine Corps to let her be a pilot.
In July 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve into law, giving women the chance to fill positions left open by men headed to combat. The Corps delayed formation of the branch until February 1943, and Cole enlisted five months later at age 29, becoming one of the earliest volunteers for the branch.
Despite putting in 200 hours in the cockpit of a Piper Cub, Cole completed six weeks of boot camp at Camp Lejeune with the Women’s Reserve’s First Battalion and wound up “behind a typewriter instead of an airplane.”
Fifth news item
President Donald Trump is considering granting a pardon to Steve Bannon, his former White House chief strategist and top campaign aide, who was charged with swindling donors to a private crowdsourcing effort to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The potential pardon would follow a wave of reprieves the president has recently granted to political allies who have been convicted, charged or reportedly under federal investigation. Two additional batches of pardons are expected — one on Friday night and one Wednesday morning before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office, according to one of the people.
(Bannon has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and is due to stand trial in May 2021.)
Sixth news item
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs raged on Thursday that a handful of Republican lawmakers refused to stand by President Donald Trump after he incited a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week that led to five deaths.
“These are people who don’t care about the party, the president. They don’t care about the Constitution themselves,” Dobbs said to his “Lou Dobbs Tonight” guest, former GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
“Because they’re acting in utter disregard for the president’s right to loyalty.”
Seventh news item
Prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election, an inquiry into offenses that would be beyond his federal pardon power.”
Eighth news item
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) are circulating a petition that seeks to force Cheney out of her leadership role for her decision, which she called a “vote of conscience.”
They say her decision to announce her position a day before the vote gave Democrats talking points to go after Republicans.
Cheney didn’t take part in the floor debate, but she was mentioned repeatedly by Democratic speakers. Several Republicans noted the remarks by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who cited Cheney as he made the case for Trump’s impeachment.
“If you’re in leadership, you can vote your conscience, but you can’t get up there and make it harder for the members of your team by giving talking points to the opponents,” one member told The Hill.
Cheney says she’s not stepping down.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she told reporters Wednesday. “This is a vote of conscience. It’s one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the civil war, a constitutional crisis.”
FFS, GROWN MEN IGNORING THEIR COMPLICITY IN ALL THINGS TRUMP WHILE THEY BLAME A WOMAN WHO VOTED HER CONSCIENCE AND HAS MORE MORAL FORTITUDE AND SPINE THAN THEY COULD EVER DREAM OF HAVING! Seriously, Republicans, this is not a good look for the party.
Ninth news item
Since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, what appears to be an unusual number of Republicans in the three biggest Tampa Bay area counties have switched parties, mostly to no party affiliation, but some becoming Democrats.
News reports in Florida and nationwide have noted a similar phenomenon elsewhere, with voters citing anger at President Donald Trump and his supporters.
But at least a few Republicans may also be switching out of anger that party leaders haven’t backed Trump strongly enough, including one Hillsborough County Republican Party official.
According to figures from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas elections supervisors, 2,025 Republicans in the three counties switched parties from Jan. 6 through Thursday.
The 2,025 GOP party switchers are less than half of 1 percent of the total 705,818 Republicans registered in the three counties.
But the number switching is far higher than in the same time period following the 2016 presidential election.
Have a great weekend.