Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: March 27, 2023

The original plan today was to write this intro about deepfakes—how good they’re becoming, and the dangers that creates.

But … I can’t. I am just not feeling it, after digesting the news of yet another mass shooting at another elementary school where more kids were slaughtered.

I almost lost it when I saw the first photo in the photo gallery The Tennessean newspaper published following the murder of three adults and three children at The Covenant School in Nashville this morning. It shows a clearly traumatized child, crying, looking out the window of a bus after the shooting.

Some more details via The Associated Press:

The suspect in a Nashville school shooting on Monday had drawn a detailed map of the school, including potential entry points, and conducted surveillance before killing three students and three adults in the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country growing increasingly unnerved by bloodshed in schools.

The suspect, who was killed by police, is believed to be a former student at The Covenant School in Nashville, where the shooting took place.

The shooter was armed with two “assault-style” weapons—a rifle and a pistol—as well as a handgun, authorities said. At least two of them were believed to have been obtained legally in the Nashville area.

The victims were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 8 or 9 years old, and adults Cynthia Peak, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; and Mike Hill, 61.

Will these murders finally spur GOP politicians to do something? One word: Nope. CNN reporter Manu Raju said via Twitter:

The only word that comes to mind right now is “appalling”—but that word is no where near strong enough.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Fourth Is Best: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Is the First Great Film of 2023

By Bob Grimm

March 27th, 2023

John Wick is a career-defining role that plays to all of Keanu Reeves’ great movie-star qualities and allows him to show off dramatically and physically.

Snapshot: David Toms Wins The Inaugural Galleri Classic Going Away

By Kevin Fitzgerald

March 27th, 2023

David Toms easily won the first Galleri Classic despite a brief challenge from Retief Goosen on the final day.

Healing Drums: Numerous Music Legends Participate in a High-Cost Benefit for the Raven Drum Foundation

By Cat Makino

March 27th, 2023

The April 1 event will start with a healing drum circle, and will end with a live performance by the founder of the Raven Drum Foundation, Lauren Monroe, a vocalist, songwriter and healing-arts educator.

Snapshot: The PGA Tour Champions’ Inaugural Galleri Classic Gets Under Way at Mission Hills

By Kevin Fitzgerald

March 25th, 2023

After the first day of play at the inaugural Galleri Classic, David Toms went into the MIssion Hills Country Club’s clubhouse in first place at 7 under par.

On the Scene: ‘How Sweet It Is!’ Celebrates 35 Years of Heart, Soul and McCallum Theatre Muses (nonprofit submission)

By Jeffrey Norman

March 25th, 2023

“How Sweet It Is!” netted more than $500,000 to support McCallum Theatre Education, the largest amount in The Muses & Patroness Circle’s 35 year history.

More News

• The Washington Post headline: “She lost her trans son to suicide. Can a Kentucky lawmaker make her colleagues care?” Some more: “Eight years had passed since (Henry Berg-Brousseau) told Kentucky lawmakers how it felt, at 16, to be the only transgender student at his high school. Eight weeks had passed since he’d killed himself, at 24, at his Northern Virginia apartment. It was Henry who’d inspired his mother, Karen Berg, to run for Kentucky’s state Senate, helping her win a seat in an overwhelmingly Republican legislature now contemplating a pile of anti-trans bills. All morning long, the doctor turned Democratic lawmaker had been pacing around her Louisville house, trying to figure out what she could say to stop them. ‘Don’t shake. Don’t cry. Don’t let your voice waver,’ Karen, 61, muttered to herself as she did the laundry. ‘Short and sweet is better.’ … Five days earlier, a senator running for lieutenant governor had stood a few feet from Karen and introduced legislation to allow teachers to use students’ birth names and pronouns against their wishes. He was greeted with thunderous applause from colleagues. Karen, one of just six Democrats in the Senate, couldn’t believe it.”

• The ProPublica headline: “How Cigna Saves Millions by Having Its Doctors Reject Claims Without Reading Them.” The piece starts off telling the story of Nick van Terheyden, whose blood test for a vitamin D deficiency that was causing pain in his bones was denied for payment by Cigna: “The rejection of van Terheyden’s claim was typical for Cigna, one of the country’s largest insurers. The company has built a system that allows its doctors to instantly reject a claim on medical grounds without opening the patient file, leaving people with unexpected bills, according to corporate documents and interviews with former Cigna officials. Over a period of two months last year, Cigna doctors denied over 300,000 requests for payments using this method, spending an average of 1.2 seconds on each case, the documents show. The company has reported it covers or administers health care plans for 18 million people.”

Continuing with more depressing health news, NPR reports: “Just before Christmas, federal health officials confirmed life expectancy in America had dropped for a nearly unprecedented second year in a row—down to 76 years. While countries all over the world saw life expectancy rebound during the second year of the pandemic after the arrival of vaccines, the U.S. did not. Then (came) more bad news: Maternal mortality in the U.S. reached a high in 2021. Also, a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association found rising mortality rates among U.S. children and adolescents. ‘This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever seen (an increase in pediatric mortality)—it’s always been declining in the United States for as long as I can remember,’ says the JAMA paper’s lead author Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. ‘Now, it’s increasing at a magnitude that has not occurred at least for half a century.’ Across the lifespan, and across every demographic group, Americans die at younger ages than their counterparts in other wealthy nations.” Yeesh.

• Sorry about all the depressing news! After all of that, I need a drink. Here’s a link to a recent column by Kevin Carlow featuring classic cocktail recipes. I strongly recommend the Clover Club. It’s converted at least one person I know who normally doesn’t like gin drinks! And if you don’t drink, Kevin has you covered here, too.

• We now return to depressing news: A recession is looking more likely following the bank-collapse messes and continuing high inflation. Business Insider says: “Brace for an imminent recession as higher interest rates strangle the US economy, two billionaire investors both known as the ‘Bond Kings’ have warned. ‘Be cautious. Recession to come soon,’ Bill Gross, Pimco’s cofounder and the former chief of its flagship Total Return fund, tweeted on Thursday. … Jeffrey Gundlach, the CEO of DoubleLine, echoed Gross’ grim prediction in his own Thursday tweet. He pointed to the narrowing inversion in the yields from 2-year and 10-year Treasuries, noting the gap between them has shrunk from 107 basis points to 40 in recent weeks.”

• Look! More (mostly) good news: The state is loosening yet more water restrictions. Our partners at CalMatters report: “With the Sierra Nevada smothered in snow, large swaths of the Central Valley underwater and many Californians weary of water, state officials announced today that they are lifting some drought-related provisions on water use. ‘Our water supply conditions have improved markedly,’ said Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot. The state is rescinding its request for voluntary 15% water conservation statewide, which was issued in July 2021, and instead, Crowfoot said, shifting to an approach of making conservation a ‘way of life.’ Some of the state’s emergency provisions were ended and some were left in place. Wasteful uses of water, such as hosing down sidewalks and watering ornamental grass on commercial property, remain banned, according to state officials.”

• And finally … the California Legislature today passed a bill intended to increase transparency in the oil industry. The Los Angeles Times says: “After months of deliberation, the final bill does not cap oil refinery profits or penalize the industry as Newsom had intended when he accused companies of intentionally driving up gas prices to boost revenue. Instead, the bill, SBX1-2, gives the California Energy Commission the power to set a cap and impose penalties through a regulatory process if it decides that oil companies are making excessive profits and that a penalty will not result in higher prices for consumers. The legislation focuses on transparency, including requiring the industry to provide more information about maintenance and pricing decisions in order to allow state officials to better understand the market and deter companies from gouging consumers. … Republicans criticized Newsom and Democrats, arguing that the legislation will hurt Californians. ‘This bill is a senseless attack on domestic energy production that will only harm hardworking Californians in the field by creating a hostile business climate,’ said Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield).”

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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...