The Forward Five – Tuesday, 12/8/20

Five Things to Know Today

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— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! I’ve been worried lately about our readership numbers, which have fallen off a cliff since the election. Since I also put the flexible paywall back up at about the same time, I wasn’t sure if the drop was caused by the paywall or by a natural decline during the holidays. (And let’s face, who isn’t tired of dealing with the news?)

This morning, I got some reassurance that it isn’t just Forward Kentucky.

Now this is a little geeky, but stay with me. There is a web thing called Real Simple Syndication (RSS). Once it is set up on a web site, it automatically generates a title, except, and link for every story that is posted. (If you want to see ours, go to RSS readers can then take this “feed” and turn it into a list of stories.

Every morning, I use my RSS reader to scan hundreds of news stories from news sources across the state, looking for items for the Forward Five and possible stories for the web site. The reader I use also tracks how many people have clicked through a story to the original story on the original site. And that’s where I got my reassurance.

Before the election, it was not uncommon for a story on the Courier-Journal, say, to have hundreds or even thousands of click-throughs. Pretty much every political story from all the major outlets was like that. But I noticed this morning that the numbers for other outlets were WAY down. Instead of hundreds, it was 55, or 30, or even zero.

So, I’m glad to find out that it’s not just us. (“Was it something I said?”) People are turning their attention to the holidays, and family, and snow, and all the normal things we think about at this time of year.

I will note, though, that these are not normal times, and even though it can be a downer, we need to keep paying attention to what is happening. Exhaustion is a tool of autocrats, as is chaos. Don’t let it cause you to give up or stop watching.

Thanks for being an email subscriber, and thanks for reading. Stay safe.

Bruce Maples, publisher
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Today’s Five Things to Know

12/7 update — Beshear says numbers show restrictions work, but awaits effect of Thanksgiving

After announcing that last week set a record for coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear offered a bit of cautious hope that the rate of growth could be leveling off. He said that this shows that his latest restrictions are working, but cautioned that we still have to deal with the Thanksgiving cases. He also noted that the state would receive 147,000 doses of the two new vaccines this month, with more coming later. At the bottom of the story is the results of a survey by the New York Times of 700 epidemiologists, noting what activities they have done and which they have avoided. They ranked the riskiest behavior as eating inside at a restaurant. (Forward Kentucky)

Kentuckians lost to ‘evil virus’ honored at the Capitol

Members of the First United Methodist Church Handbell Choir perform during a wreath-laying ceremony on Monday at the Capitol with Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife, First Lady Britainy Beshear. (Photo provided by Gov. Andy Beshear's Office)

A wreath-laying ceremony outside the state Capitol on Monday honored the 200,000 Kentuckians who have tested positive for COVID-19, and especially the more than 2,000 who have died. The wreath combines two symbols: the wreath, and the green lights within it. A handbell choir provided music for the ceremony. (Forward Kentucky)

KDP staff unionized, but Exec Committee not part of process

Multiple sources have told Forward Kentucky that when the staff of the Kentucky Democratic Party joined a union, the State Central Executive Committee was not involved at all during the process. The SCEC did not learn of the decision until after it had happened. (Forward Kentucky)

Kentucky legislator pre-files bill prohibiting colleges from mandating vaccines

State Rep. Mark Hart (R-Falmouth) has pre-filed a bill for the 2021 General Assembly that would prohibit public and private postsecondary institutions from requiring students to be vaccinated, with an exemption only for students in a health care service program. 

Under state law, public and private K-12 students and kids in day care must be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases as a condition for attendance, though Kentucky has an exemption allowing parents to opt-out for religious reasons. There is currently no prohibition on universities in Kentucky requiring vaccines, which is common practice. (Courier-Journal)

Today is Safe Harbor Day for electoral votes

Tuesday is Safe Harbor Day. Other than Wisconsin, every state appears to have met a deadline in federal law that essentially means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on Jan. 6. Those votes will elect Joe Biden as the country’s next president.

It’s called a safe harbor provision because it’s a kind of insurance policy by which a state can lock in its electoral votes by finishing up certification of the results and any state court legal challenges by a congressionally imposed deadline, which this year is Tuesday.

“What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by Dec. 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” said Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William & Mary law school in Williamsburg, Virginia. (WHAS11)

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Recent Content on Forward Kentucky

[new] indicates item not in a Forward Five before
*indicates high # of reads, social media shares, or both

[new] Let’s talk about McConnell and fixing democracy … – Another solid video from Beau of the Fifth Column, on two ideas that would dramatically alter our democracy for the better. Takes about six minutes to watch. (Video)

[new] Conspiracy and the 2020 presidential election — how do we end polarization? – The current wave of conspiracy theories about the presidential election reveal a deeper problem: the significant polarization in our country. How can we address this? (News)

Beshear files defense of K-12 school closings with U.S. Supreme Court – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has filed a defense of his decision to close all K-12 schools in the state to slow the spread of the coronavirus with the nation’s highest court. (News)

*KY Repubs in Congress won’t admit Biden won – The fear that Republicans, including our Kentucky seven, have of both Donald Trump and his cult followers is both amazing and disheartening. If they continue to refuse to accept the results, they will do even more serious damage to our democracy. (News)

Beshear needs a new approach to get Kentuckians to heed warnings and follow rules to prevent spread of the virus – It’s rare for a high-ranking official to seek advice publicly, but that’s exactly what Gov. Andy Beshear did Wednesday at his daily coronavirus briefing. So, here is some advice for the governor. (Commentary)

KY way behind in unemployment payments – but so is everyone else – The federal standard for UI payments is that 87% of recipients should start getting payments within three weeks. In contrast, Kentucky is hitting the payments-sent-within-three-weeks mark with only 27% of applicants – but the rest of the country isn’t doing much better. (News)

*As the pandemic rages, the US (and Kentucky) could use a little bit more ‘samfundssind’ – In recent years, the English-speaking world has found two Danish concepts, “pyt” and “hygge,” useful for dealing with anxiety and stress. Now another Danish word – “samfundssind” – might help countries grapple with the pandemic. (Commentary)

*Repubs called out for not wearing masks at the Capitol – If you are a Republican, wearing a mask is optional, because this whole COVID thing is a hoax. Even after being asked to put one on, most Repubs at the meeting would not. The Democrats present have called them out for it. (News)

MOKP — COVID-19 court cases and other updates – This week, Jazmin runs down Daniel Cameron’s lawsuit against Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 restrictions and the religious arguments he has been making. Plus, criminal justice quick hits, and talk about some pieces of journalism they’ve been reading lately. (Podcast)

Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash

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Forward Kentucky is an independent media organization focused on progressive news and issues in Kentucky. Our objectives are to provide journalism that is objective, policies that are effective, and commentary that is progressive. Our goal is to help Kentucky become all that it can be through government that works, for all. We are "the progressive voice for Kentucky politics."

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