Daily Digest: Jan. 27, 2021
Buried among all the other news today (including Blockbuster Video’s stock surge) (seriously) (well, mostly seriously; we’ll get to that a bit later) was this really scary alert from the Department of Homeland Security. An excerpt:
The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security has issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin due to a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration. Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.
Meanwhile, 45 of the 50 Republican U.S. Senators voted yesterday to not even proceed with the trial against the impeached former president who stirred up these “violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition.” That same former president was the one who created the “grievances fueled by false narratives.”
I can almost always see both sides of an issue—and understand a position, even if I don’t personally agree with it. But on this matter … I don’t understand what these 45 Republicans are thinking. Not at all.
From the Independent
Architecture Online: Modernism Week Is Ready for Virtual Events in February—and Preparing for In-Person Events in April
By Matt King
January 26, 2021
After a February slate of online offerings, Modernism Week plans on in-person events two months later—including the first events at the Convention Center in a […]
By Jimmy Boegle
January 27, 2021
Our editor’s note to readers from the February 2021 print edition (tweaked for the web, of course).
And Now, the News
• New city managers are coming! Palm Springs has picked Justin Clifton, the city manager of Sedona, Ariz., to take over for longtime City Manager David Ready in April. And Palm Desert is set to hire Todd Hileman, who is currently the city manager of Denton, Texas.
• Sheriff Chad Bianco has the coronavirus. He reports on Facebook: “Well, the virus made its way through the entire Bianco family: all the kids, (grand babies tested negative) Denise, and yours truly. Everyone recovered after light symptoms. I held off the longest and wouldn’t have known other than I lost my sense of smell/taste. I’m working from home while abiding by the recommended quarantine. Denise is taking good care of me and her cooking has been perfect!!! As much as she is trying to convince me, hot lemon water is not the same as coffee!” As you may recall, Bianco has famously downplayed the severity of the virus and has said he will not get the vaccine.
• A forecast of bad weather has led the county to close its vaccination clinic in Beaumont on Friday. According to the news release: “Health officials are closing the vaccine clinic at San Gorgonio Middle School in Beaumont Friday (Jan. 29) due to the severe weather that is predicted for the region. The other clinics planned for Friday remain scheduled, but officials will be monitoring the situation at each location to ensure the public’s safety. Those with appointments Friday at the Beaumont location will be rescheduled to Monday at the same time. They will be contacted by email to confirm the new appointment.”
• Our partners at CalMatters share the latest information (or lack thereof) regarding the state’s pivot to a more age-based vaccination-priority system: “Educators, childcare workers, food and farm workers and first responders will join Californians age 65 and over who have priority to qualify for the coronavirus vaccine, state officials announced today. After that large group is vaccinated, the next priority group will be based on age — and middle-aged Californians are likely to be next in line.” In other words … if you’re younger than 50 and have a serious medical condition that makes you more susceptible to COVID-19 … too bad!
• The state is hiring Blue Shield of California to oversee the vaccine-distribution process in California. The Los Angeles Times says: “On Tuesday, officials announced their intent to create a statewide vaccine distribution network but declined to identify Blue Shield until Wednesday as the company that will be placed in charge of the program. A spokesman for the California Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the contract is expected to be finalized soon and that the transition in oversight will take several weeks.”
• Here’s the latest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report. (District 4 includes the Coachella Valley and the rural areas to the east.) The report for the week ending Jan. 24 shows some improvement, but makes it clear the virus is still a huge problem in our area. The 18.6 percent weekly positivity rate is terrible, and our local ICU numbers actually went up during the week (although overall COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped fairly substantially). Worst of all, 12 more of our neighbors died from the virus last week.
• If you think the vaccination process in the U.S. is a mess … it’s even more of a fustercluck in Europe! Says The Washington Post: “One month after its launch, thecoronavirusvaccination campaign in the 27-nation bloc is already in crisis. Vaccine shipments have been delayed, and E.U.leaders are under firefor mishandling the ordering process. In some areas, inoculation programs have ground to a halt.”
• However, usual rivals may join forces to help solve the shortage: “In an unusual and potentially groundbreaking decision, French drugmaker Sanofi said Wednesday it will help bottle and package 125 million doses of thecoronavirusvaccine developed by its rivals Pfizer and BioNTech, while its own vaccine candidate faces delays,” says The Associated Press via ABC News.
• An expert in health law, writing for The Conversation, says she’s confident that the Biden administration can fix the vaccination process here in the U.S. Not because Biden’s administration is filled with geniuses, however … it just matters that they’re competent: “None of these plans is remarkable; they reflect much of the pandemic planning that was conceived, but not implemented, over the past decade. To beat COVID-19, we will have to pay for deferred public health infrastructure. Some of those funds have already been appropriated by Congress in the$900 billion COVID relief billpassed in December; more will be needed. And it will take some months to implement. But now, there is a fully achievable vaccination plan in place, and with it, hope for a way through the COVID-19 crisis.”.
• In other news about the Biden Administration: “President Biden on Wednesday signed a series of executive orders that aim to “confront the existential threat of climate change” across the federal government while emphasizing job creation and tackling racial inequity,” reports The New York Times. “‘In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can’t wait any longer,’ said Mr. Biden, speaking at the White House. ‘We see it with our own eyes. We feel it. We know it in our bones. And it’s time to act.'”
• And yesterday, he signed an executive order phasing out the Justice Department’s use of private prisons.
• And he is expected to “reopen the HealthCare.gov insurance markets for a special sign-up opportunity geared to people needing coverage inthe coronavirus pandemic” tomorrow, The Associated Press reports.
• More news keeps burbling up about new Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. After news broke last week about her apparent beliefs that several school shootings were “false flag” conspiracies, people have found social media posts of hers calling for the execution of prominent Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi. NBC News reports: “Republican leaders have also taken note. Mark Bednar, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California,told Axiosthat McCarthy finds the remarks ‘deeply disturbing’ and ‘plans to have a conversation’ with Greene about them.”
• In other news from the far-right world, CNN brings us this headline: “Lawmakers in 14 states have proposed anti-LGBTQ bills, many of which target trans youth.” Sigh.
• What started as a longshot effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has become a serious movement. Our partners at CalMatters have put together a nice piece explaining how this came to be—and what would happen if enough signatures are gathered to make a recall election a reality.
• OK, OK, you’ve been wondering about that Blockbuster thing long enough: A Reddit chat room is creating stock market chaos: “Wall Street has been watchingGameStopin awe as a band of Reddit-obsessed retail investors managed to push the stock up 1,500% in two weeks, squeezing out short selling hedge funds,” CNBC reports. “A wave of at-home tradersfound each other on the red-hot ‘wallstreetbets’ Reddit chat room, whose members have ballooned to over 3 million. By motivating each other to keep piling into shares and call options, they coordinated a monstrous short squeeze in the brick-and-mortar video game retailer.” As a result, this is costing some hedge-fund types, including the new owner of the New York Mets, billions.
• Similar things have happened to other stocks seen as weak, like Bed Bath and Beyond, AMC Entertainment, and yes, even Blockbuster, which somehow lives on as a penny stock from its liquidation days. Bloomberg reports: “The penny stock surged as much as 302% Wednesday, adding to Tuesday’s 774% spike, on volume that was 70 times the three-month average, showing that even the most retrograde of old-technology stocks isn’t immune to the ebullience of retail investors and day traders.” What a world.
• Finally … one of the funniest people who ever graced a TV or movie screen has left us: Cloris Leachman passed away yesterday at the age of 94. Here’s the Los Angeles Times’ story on her amazing career.
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