The Forward Five – Tuesday, 12/22/20

Five Things to Know Today

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— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! In case you hadn’t noticed, we are in the holiday news slow-down: Congress has (finally) wrapped up the relief package and the continuing resolution, most of the drama surrounding the presidential election has died down (but not all), and we’re not yet into General Assembly 2021.

And, what news we do have includes some actual good news: vaccines are being distributed, the relief monies will start going out soon, and Bill Barr appears to have distanced himself from Trump and continues to shoot down Trumpian claims and plans.

Still, there are things happening: We don’t know the extent of the Russian hack of our country’s critical computer systems, even though we know it is bad; some Republicans are still trying to overturn the election and overthrow the government; and there is a pretty important election coming up in Georgia.

(And I have just started three paragraphs in a row with a clause followed by a colon, which surely breaks some rule in the AP Style Guide.)

All of this to say, even as we all take a breather at the end of this week, be sure to take a glance at the news every now and then. Important stuff can still happen, especially with Trump still in office.

But also, be sure to take that breather. Stop doom-scrolling, turn off CNN or MSNBC, and take a drive to look at lights. Spend time with someone you haven’t spent enough time with – or with yourself.

We’re going to do the same. We’ll do a Forward Five tomorrow (Wednesday), and then not any more this week. And, next week may be less than every weekday as well – depends on what’s in the news.

Stay safe. Slow down. And thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

Bruce Maples, publisher
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Today’s Five Things to Know

12/21 update — Beshear says people 75 and older have ‘compelling argument’ to get virus vaccine after nursing homes and health-care workers

Kentuckians 75 and older have a “very compelling argument” to be among those next in line to get vaccines for the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday as vaccinations began at nursing homes in the state. The cases numbers for a Monday were up, but the weekly totals are still trending down. And, hospitalizations are down some as well. (Forward Kentucky)

Related: A death every 33 seconds – In a larger story, WaPo notes that Kentucky is only state with decline in ICU bed usage compared to three months ago. (Washington Post)

McConnell puts fix for ‘surprise billing’ problem in must-pass bill

The massive bill to keep the government open and provide $900 billion in pandemic relief also includes a compromise solution to the nagging problem of “surprise billing” in health care, key members in both parties said Sunday night.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was pulled in opposite directions on the issue and had remained mum about it, made the final call, Susannah Luthi of Politico reports. (KY Health News)

After JCPS tax increase, Louisville Republicans want to change petition rules

Petitions to recall school district tax increases in Kentucky would only need 100 signatures to qualify for ballots, under legislation two Louisville Republicans filed ahead of the upcoming General Assembly session. State Rep. Kevin Bratcher filed the bill this month, several weeks after a judge ruled a petition to let voters decide the fate of a Jefferson County Public Schools property tax increase had too many invalid signatures. State Rep. Jerry Miller is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Existing state law requires the number of signatures on a petition seeking to recall a school district tax increase to be equal to at least 10% of the total number of votes cast in the local municipality or county during the last presidential election. (Courier-Journal)

AG Barr: No reason for special counsel on election, Biden’s son

Breaking with President Donald Trump, outgoing Attorney General William Barr said Monday he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into the president’s claims of election fraud or the tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden.

In his final press conference, Barr also undercut Trump as he reinforced the belief of federal officials that Russia was behind the cyberespionage operation targeting the U.S. government. Trump had suggested without evidence that China could be responsible.

Barr said the investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings was “being handled responsibly and professionally.”

“I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” he said. (Richmond Register)

Pigs fly: Televangelist Pat Robertson says it’s time for Trump to accept Biden’s win and “move on”

Televangelist Pat Robertson, one of President Trump’s staunchest backers, on Monday described Trump as “very erratic,” called on him to accept that President-elect Joe Biden won and said the Republican should not consider running again in 2024.

The comments marked a sharp turnaround for Robertson, who recently voiced support for Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud and declared before the election that God had told him Trump was going to win. (Washington Post)

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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] This holiday, will McConnell say “Bah! Humbug!”? Will WE? – In a year of tremendous suffering, will we approach the poor and needy with “Bah! Humbug!” Or will Mitch McConnell, and we ourselves, learn the lessons of A Christmas Carol? An excellent application of the lessons of Dickens’s classic to today. (Commentary)

[new] THE CRISIS CONTINUES IN MY COVID CCU, NO END IN SIGHT – “At the end of shift my brain is tired; it’s not a head ache, it’s an exhausted brain screaming for a break.” A front-line COVID report. (Feature)

[new] 🔥 What Biden’s plan for “Building Back Better” could mean for the Ohio Valley – President-Elect Joe Biden’s sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure plan could have a profound impact in the Ohio Valley region. The plan would invest in rural broadband, clean energy industries, and struggling water systems. (Policy)

The Peach and the Pit – If Georgia voters elect the two Dems in January, Biden will be able to get his agenda through Congress. If not, McConnell will obstruct progress for years. Steve Greenberg explains the situation in simple, Georgia-specific, terms. (Cartoon)

Happy COVID Christmas – Our first year in Coronaville is coming to an end. The virus has affected all major holidays since March, so why should Christmas be any different? But perhaps, we can all learn something from this year. (Commentary)

🔥 Labor mourns the loss of Robert and Connie Coleman – COVID-19 has claimed the lives of Paducah’s longest-serving elected city official and his community-activist wife of 48 years. (News)

Can Trump still steal the election? And why are Repubs still supporting him? – The Electoral College has voted, and it’s over, right? Then what’s up with Congress counting votes on January 6? Could Trump still steal it then? Join us as we talk with lawyer and analyst Teri Kanefield about that date, as well as why Republicans are still supporting Trump. (Video and podcast)

🔥 New bill would obliterate open records laws, create extreme level of state secrets – A new bill filed by Rep. John Blanton would “turn open records upside down,” with some experts calling it “an extraordinarily extreme state secrets bill.” (News)

🔥 Rand Paul is angry: “If you solicit votes from typically non-voters, you might affect the outcome” – Rand Paul is angry because Georgia is sending voting information to registered voters, and – horrors! – people might actually VOTE. How un-democratic! (Commentary)

League of Women Voters fights for fair maps, releases examples – The Kentucky League of Women Voters is working to get the word out about the need to push for fair maps in the upcoming redistricting process. As part of that effort, the League released example maps based on 2010 census data. (Backgrounder)

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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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