Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: May 25, 2023

I found the first four paragraphs of this New York Times piece to be, in a word, alarming:

For years, Pride Month, the annual celebration for LGBTQ Americans, has afforded companies a marketing opportunity to tap into the buying power of a group with growing financial, political and social clout.

Yet, while these efforts have always faced some opposition, brands and marketers say the country’s current political environment—especially around transgender issues—has made this year’s campaigns more complicated. This week Target became the latest company to rethink its approach after facing criticism for its Pride collection, which included clothes and books for children that drew outrage from some on the right.

The retailer moved its Pride displays—including rainbow-striped collared shirts, yellow hoodies reading “Not a Phase” and baby clothing and accessories—from the entrances of some Target stores around the country and placed them in the back.

Target said it was concerned “about threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work” after some customers had screamed at employees and thrown the Pride-themed merchandise on the floor.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that the anti-gay, anti-trans forces are feeling empowered and emboldened. They don’t want stores selling merchandise affirming LGBTQ people’s existence. They don’t want books or movies with LGBTQ themes or even LGBTQ characters.

Here’s another tidbit from that NYT piece:

One woman recorded a TikTok video in a Target store on Monday in which she became angry at seeing a greeting card that read “So Glad You Came Out” and a yellow onesie that said “¡Bien Proud!”

“If that doesn’t give you a reason to boycott Target, I don’t know what does,” she said.

This woman went viral because she was offended by someone being congratulated for coming out. Think about that.

This really isn’t about protecting kids, or any other B.S. that bigots use to justify their hatred and/or ignorance. These people don’t want LGBTQ individuals to be part of “their” world, period. That’s beyond alarming.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Restaurant News Bites: Rio Azul Closes Permanently, Rooster and the Pig Working on Reopening, After Electrical Issue; and More!

By Charles Drabkin

May 25th, 2023

The latest local restaurant news, including a new home for PS Drag Brunch; a brand-new wine fest; and much, much more!

Back Again: LGBTQ Center of the Desert Announces the Return of Mike Thompson as CEO

By Jimmy Boegle

May 24th, 2023

Mike Thompson, who served as the LGBTQ Center of the Desert’s president and CEO from 2014-2021, is returning to the role.

‘Fast X’ Made Me Furious: The Latest Installment Shows the Franchise Has Run Out of Gas

By Bob Grimm

May 24th, 2023

With Fast X, it’s become clear that the franchise can no longer top itself—although it tries to, in exhausting ways.

The Lucky 13: Nick Galvan, Frontman of Tourists, Which Just Released the Band’s Self-Titled Debut EP

By Matt King

May 25th, 2023

Palm Desert-based band Tourists, which has been winning over fans with their live show and mix of pop and rock, released their self-titled debut EP on May 19.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for May 25, 2023!

By Staff

May 25th, 2023

Topics addressed this week include possible career mistakes, joyrides into space, residual checks, tax cheats—and more!

More News

The Los Angeles Times offers a look at the extreme measures Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s staff has long taken to keep her out of the press’ watchful eye: “In committee meetings, her public remarks have been limited and she is always surrounded by staff. They also often form a human barrier between her and the press corps, with one staffer pushing her wheelchair while others shout at photographers to move out of the way. One member of this protective bubble is Nancy Corinne Prowda, Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s eldest daughter, who was first observed by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Shira Stein. Since Feinstein returned to Washington, I’ve found myself regularly watching as Prowda runs interference and shields the senator from reporters, sometimes placing herself between them.”

Our partners at CalMatters report that corporations are buying up a lot of California rental properties—and then jacking up rents: “Two years ago, Blackstone bought a portfolio of 66 relatively low-rent apartment buildings in San Diego County from a well-known charitable foundation for $1.48 billion. This year, tenants of those 5,800 dwellings say they’re worried about rent increases, maintenance issues and potential evictions. And advocates and tenant groups have mounted an organized campaign, warning that thousands of previously affordable homes are becoming less affordable as Blackstone’s influence grows. Residents have protested a $4.5 billion investment in Blackstone by the University of California. They staged a public town hall with San Diego’s city council president, and they lobbied state lawmakers to increase renter protections. Some lawmakers share their concerns. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said so many affordable units under one corporation’s control is cause for ‘major concern,’ especially if the company is raising rents.”

Tangentially related: The Washington Post reveals that local governments are using cameras, facial recognition and other tools to essentially turn some public-housing complexes into police states: “In public housing facilities across America, local officials are installing a new generation of powerful and pervasive surveillance systems, imposing an outsize level of scrutiny on some of the nation’s poorest citizens. Housing agencies have been purchasing the tools—some equipped with facial recognition and other artificial intelligence capabilities—with no guidance or limits on their use, though the risks are poorly understood and little evidence exists that they make communities safer. In rural Scott County, Va., cameras equipped with facial recognition scan everyone who walks past them, looking for people barred from public housing. In New Bedford, Mass., software is used to search hours of recordings to find any movement near the doorways of residents suspected of violating overnight guest rules. And in tiny Rolette, N.D., public housing officials have installed 107 cameras to watch up to 100 residents—a number of cameras per capita approaching that found in New York’s Rikers Island jail complex.”

Keep in mind that it’s 2023 as you read this. The Associated Press says: “Lawmakers in several states are embracing legislation to let children work in more hazardous occupations, for more hours on school nights and in expanded roles, including serving alcohol in bars and restaurants as young as 14. The efforts to significantly roll back labor rules are largely led by Republican lawmakers to address worker shortages and, in some cases, run afoul of federal regulations. Child welfare advocates worry the measures represent a coordinated push to scale back hard-won protections for minors. … Lawmakers proposed loosening child labor laws in at least 10 states over the past two years, according to a report published last month by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.”

California’s cannabis industry is facing yet another serious threat. SFGate reports: “An infectious pathogen inside California’s pot farms is attacking cannabis plants and growing invisibly for months only to spoil a crop just as a farmer is ready to harvest. Scientists believe that it’s in nearly every pot farm in the state and could be causing billions of dollars in damages to the national weed economy. Hop-latent viroid, or HLVd, shrivels pot plants and reduce how much weight they produce by as much as 30%. It also destroys the amount of THC, pot’s most common active compound, that a plant produces, greatly reducing the value of affected plants.”

A really big automotive recall is likely in the works. The Wall Street Journal (where a subscription is required to read the full story; apologies) reports: “Air-bag inflators that regulators have warned could explode during a crash and spray the car’s interior with metal shrapnel are in at least 50 different vehicle models spanning 15 automotive brands, according to records filed as part of a federal safety-defect investigation. The Wall Street Journal identified at least 6.8 million vehicles that carmakers have said were built with the potentially dangerous air-bag part. To tally the figure, the Journal reviewed documents that automakers submitted to regulators during the government’s eight-year probe of the matter. The total number of vehicles affected is expected to be much larger, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week publicly demanding that parts maker ARC Automotive recall a total of 67 million inflators, devices that activate during a collision to rapidly fill the air bag like a balloon.”

• And finally … lower-income individuals may be eligible for help paying their gas bills. From a news release: “SoCalGas announced that approximately $3 million dollars of the committed $6 million is still available in the company’s Gas Assistance Fund to support eligible customers in paying their natural gas bill. This year, over 10,000 SoCalGas customers have already benefitted from the Gas Assistance Fund, which helps income-qualified customers pay their natural gas bill with a one-time grant of up to $500. … If the eligible applicant or a household member is age 55 or older, an additional $100 is available—for a maximum grant of up to $500. Since the fund’s expansion, the average grant per household has been approximately $300. Full guidelines for qualification can be found at”

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...