Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 18, 2022

It seems we have reached that point in human history where the serious, society-changing effects of climate change are here.

Have you heard what’s going on in Europe—specifically, in the United Kingdom? If not, here are some details, compliments of NBC News:

Residents told not to venture outside. Salt trucks spraying sand on roads to stop them from melting. Doctors pausing surgeries. Rail authorities warning tracks could buckle. Experts saying hundreds or thousands could die in the heat.

This is not the introduction to a dystopian sci-fi novel but present-day Britain. The country descended into a dangerous heat wave Monday, with forecasts of 105 degrees that would make it hotter than 98% of the planet’s surface.

Meanwhile, wildfires continued to rage across continental Europe, with authorities battling to control blazes across France, Greece, Italy and elsewhere. In Spain and Portugal, more than 1,000 deaths have been attributed to their brutal, weeklong heat wave.

While us desert denizens would consider 105 degrees to be some sort of a cooling trend this time of year, we—our infrastructure, our environment, or everything—are prepared for this kind of heat.

In Great Britain—which has the same latitude, more or less, as mid-Canada—they are not prepared for this type of heat. And as a result, insane things like this are happening, as reported by Reuters:

Britain’s Royal Air Force said on Monday aircraft were using alternative airfields to its Brize Norton air base due to extreme temperatures, after Sky News reported the hot weather had melted the runway at the Oxfordshire base.

Yikes.

Buckle up: This, alas, is just the start.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Civic Solutions: The Self-Help Housing Program Brings Housing Affordability to More Families—a Win-Win for Any Neighborhood

By Melissa Daniels

July 15th, 2022

By 2024, a plot of Palm Desert land will be the site of 14 Coachella Valley families’ brand-new homes, thanks to the Self-Help Housing Program, a new partnership between Coachella Valley Housing Coalition and the city.

Hiking With T: Don’t Be a Rescue Statistic; Take Precautions, and Plan Your Hike

By Theresa Sama

July 18th, 2022

No one plans for a rescue when they set out on a hike—but much like life, the trails can throw a curve and veer you off track. This could end up costing you miles and hours—or worse.

Vine Social: For Two Days in August, the Coachella Valley Will Host Wine Educators From Around the World

By Katie Finn

July 17th, 2022

The Society of Wine Educators’ annual conference is coming to Indian Wells.

Fake and Off-Key: ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Is a Messy, Predictable Bomb

By Bob Grimm

July 18th, 2022

In Where the Crawdads Sing, what is supposed to be a stirring take on survival and empowerment is reduced to a messy fairytale with a script beneath that of a subpar Law & Order episode.

More News

To my pleasant surprise, the latest Palm Springs wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2 levels showed some improvement. As the report says: “The average number of copies (per liter) recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant has decreased. The average of 1,433,093 copies/L from the previous week’s average has gone down to an average of 937,841 copies/L for July 11 and 12, 2022.” This bucks the trend much of the rest of the country is seeing, and while these numbers are still scary high, it’s good news nonetheless. Fingers crossed HARD that the trend continues next week (for testing done today and tomorrow).

The city of Palm Springs is going to soon need a new city manager. The Palm Springs Post reports: “Palm Springs City Manager Justin Clifton has submitted his letter of resignation. His last day in the role will be Sept. 16. Assistant City Manager Teresa Gallavan confirmed early Monday that Clifton planned to tell city staff about his decision at a morning meeting and that a statement would be issued shortly afterward. The statement was issued just after noon. … It was unclear what may have led to Clifton’s decision, but behind the scenes there were reports of friction as he tried to introduce new ways of conducting business to elected and appointed officials long used to working with (former City Manager David) Ready. … Who, exactly, will replace Clifton remains to be seen. One possible candidate is Gallavan, who could serve in an interim role if a new city manager is not hired by the time Clifton departs. Gallavan served as city manager in Selma, Calif., from 2018 to 2021. She resigned in May 2021 after a 3-2 vote by the Selma City Council to terminate her from her position. It is not known what led to that vote as it was made in closed session.”

A very good thing happened over the weekend regarding mental health. NPR explains: “People experiencing a mental health crisis have a new way to reach out for help in the U.S. Starting Saturday, they can simply call or text the numbers 9-8-8. Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional. ‘If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there,’ said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, at a recent press briefing. ‘988 won’t be a busy signal, and 988 won’t put you on hold. You will get help.'”

• As part of the 9-8-8 program, as the aforementioned NPR article explains: “The 2020 law allows states to pass legislation to add a small fee to cellphone bills as a permanent source of funds for 988 and associated mental health services…. But so far, only four states have done so, and only two more have legislation in the works.” Our partners at CalMatters report that California is one of those states with plans in the works: “(In California), advocates say the shortcut will make it simpler for people in crisis to tap into the state’s network of 13 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call centers. … Call centers in California say they are anticipating an influx of calls, and have been investing in infrastructure and training to prepare. To support this, the state Department of Health Care Services authorized $20 million last fall. This year’s budget includes an additional $8 million to fund the call centers. A bill going through the Legislature would raise additional funds for the program by attaching a fee to cell phone lines.”

The ACLU is blowing the whistle on the federal government’s practice of tracking Americans without a warrant—by simply buying data harvested from cell-phone apps. Politico says: “The Trump administration’s immigration enforcers used mobile location data to track people’s movements on a larger scale than previously known, according to documents that raise new questions about federal agencies’ efforts to get around restrictions on warrantless searches. The data, harvested from apps on hundreds of millions of phones, allowed the Department of Homeland Security to obtain data on more than 336,000 location data points across North America, the documents show. Those data points may reference only a small portion of the information that CBP has obtained. … This location data use has continued into the Biden administration, as Customs and Border Protection renewed a contract for $20,000 into September 2021, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement signed another contract in November 2021 that lasts until June 2023. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained the records from DHS through a lawsuit it filed in 2020.”

And finally … have you been wondering why the COVID variant names went from Alpha, to Delta, to Omicron … and now the names are just letters and numbers? Time magazine offers an explanation: “All along, there have been far more SARS-CoV-2 variants than have gotten Greek names; the WHO assigns alphabetical names only to variants of concern that are significantly different from previous ones. ‘At the time Omicron was emerging, there were hundreds of sublineages of Delta that we were tracking,’ explains Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19. Compared to those, Omicron represented a drastic shift in the virus’ evolution, with a ‘substantial’ number of mutations, Van Kerkhove says. … While there are differences between BA.2, BA.4, BA.5, and the rest of the Omicron subvariants, they’re all fairly similar to each other and the original Omicron strain. That’s why they’re considered descendants of Omicron rather than their own distinct variants with different Greek names to match, Van Kerkhove says.”

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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...