Indy Digest: June 24, 2021
Thieves! Thieves! Everywhere, there are thieves!
No, I am not talking about home burglars or anything like that; I am talking about online content thieves who specifically target information sources—like news websites.
Here’s how these content thieves work: Someone buys a domain name, installs some sort of template, and sets up web crawlers to search for certain types of content, which is then scraped and reposted in its entirety, sans attribution, except for a “source link” at the very bottom of the page. The thief usually sets up some sort of ad-serving account—like, say with Google AdSense—to get revenue.
These sites, at first glance, look legit. But then you’ll notice that some of the posted stories don’t really belong—they’re there because they just so happened to have a certain key word or phrase—and there’s no contact info for anyone, whatsoever, save some vague contact form that may or may not actually be functional..
While I loathe the idea of giving publicity to any of these sites, I’ll share one example—specifically, the site that’s been the biggest theft of Independent content as of late. It’s called CoachellaValleyInsider.com. If you go there, at first glance, it looks OK, like it might be a legit local-news website. But if you actually look at the content, it’s kind of insane. As of this writing, the lead story is “All-time Rockies top Draft picks,” stolen in its entirety from mlb.com for the “La Quinta” section—because it just so happens the 2003 top Rockies draft pick, as listed in the story, went to La Quinta High School.
Another top story is “Saugatuck/Douglas is the art coast of Michigan,” stolen from the Washington Blade. It’s also posted in the La Quinta section, because … well, I have no idea. “La Quinta” doesn’t even appear in the story.
(As an aside: This site steals from all sorts of news sites, local and beyond, but it seems to really have a hankering for stuff from NBC Palm Springs. Go figure.)
Whenever I discover a site like this has been stealing our copy—usually via a link-back alert sent by WordPress—the only recourse is to send a letter to the web-hosting company demanding the stolen content get taken down. Some hosting companies do a good job of taking action against sites like this; others do nothing. In the case of the aforementioned site, the hosting company, Performive, has, as of this writing, ignored all of my letters, the first of which was sent on May 26.
In the overall scheme of things, are sites like this a big deal? Not really. However, both legally and ethically, it’s important to protect the copyrights of this newspaper and its writers … and that’s why I’m spending an annoying amount of time sending takedown demand letters.
From the Independent
Joy and Laughter Are Back: Dana Goldberg Helps Kick Off a New LGBTQ Comedy Series at Hunters Palm Springs
By Jimmy Boegle
June 22, 2021
At 7 p.m., Thursday, July 8, Dana Goldberg will headline a free night of LGBTQ comedy at Hunters Palm Springs.
Vine Social: Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe Is Doing Amazing Things With Wine and Food—and It’s Just a Four-Hour Drive Away
By Katie Finn
June 23, 2021
Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe is less than four hours away. and features numerous up-and-coming wineries and hotels.
On Cocktails: Many Bartenders Loathe the Espresso Martini … Yet They Take Great Pride in the Ones They Make
By Kevin Carlow
June 24, 2021
Whether you make it at home, or go support a favorite bartender, raise a glass to the espresso martini, a deadly mix that was born […]
A Note From the Editor: California Is Open Again—but the Pandemic’s Not Over, and Things Aren’t the Same
By Jimmy Boegle
June 24, 2021
California is finally open again. Life is much, much better for people who are vaccinated. But the pandemic is not over, and things are not […]
By Jimmy Boegle
June 22, 2021
When I saw that Cathedral City’s Southern Belle Café was featuring a soft-shell crab po’ boy sandwich on its menu, I instantly knew I needed it.
By Emily Hoeven, CalMatters
June 23, 2021
CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven talks with Gov. Gavin Newsom about his life during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the country’s […]
June 24, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s Independent comics page include lotto tickets, ill-advised breakfast burritos, pool-noodle disintegration—and much more!
• Whenever a big news story breaks, I recommend going to local news sources—and such is the case with the nightmarish condo-building collapse that occurred early this morning in Surfside, Fla. Both the Miami New Times and the Miami Herald are doing excellent work; support them, please.
• Something actually got done in D.C. in a bipartisan way? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. The New York Times reports: “President Biden struck an infrastructure deal on Thursday with a bipartisan group of senators, signing on to their plan to provide about $579 billion in new investments in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other projects in hopes of moving a crucial piece of his economic agenda through Congress. … Mr. Biden’s endorsement marked a breakthrough in his efforts to forge an infrastructure compromise, but it was far from a guarantee that the package would be enacted. Both the president and top Democrats say the plan, which constitutes a fraction of the $4 trillion economic proposal Mr. Biden has put forth, can only move together with a much larger package of spending and tax increases that Democrats are planning to try to push through Congress unilaterally, over the opposition of Republicans.”
• The Coachella Valley chapter of the United Nations Association is putting on an interesting virtual event on Tuesday, June 29. From the news release: “Tanja Srebotnjak … will present a global climate crisis overview, discuss how the Biden Administration has re-joined the UN Paris Agreement and give insights with Patrick Evans on the impact on Californians during its struggles with drought, wildfires and more. Join the UNA CV in coordination with the Ponoma Valley UNA Chapter for Moving Forward in 2021, on June 29 at 4:00 PM (PT) for ‘Climate Crisis: Global and Local Perspectives‘ followed by a Q&A session.” Go here to register for the event. Go here to learn more about the chapter.
• The first full production of a live play in the Coachella Valley (that I know of) since, well, you know, has opened: The Miss Firecracker Contest is now playing at Desert Rose Playhouse. From the company’s website. “The Miss Firecracker Contest is a Southern Gothic comedy written by Beth Henley. Its heroine, Carnelle, is an irrepressible young woman who thinks that winning the local beauty contest will restore her soiled reputation and make her somebody in her small Mississippi community. The family and friends who help her along the way are a dysfunctional bunch who tackle life in their own peculiar ways. The general conclusion that the colorful characters reach is that, even if the real you is not the fulfillment of your hopes, you will be more at peace if you learn to define and accept your own self.” Check it out—and visit CVIndependent.com on Sunday to read our review, presuming everything goes according to plan.
• The national eviction moratorium has been extended … for one last time. The Associated Press reports: “The Biden administration on Thursday extended the nationwide ban on evictions for a month to help millions of tenants unable to make rent payments during the coronavirus pandemic, but said this is the last time it plans to do so. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extended the evictions moratorium from June 30 until July 31. The CDC said ‘this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium.’ A Biden administration official said the last month would be used for an ‘all hands on deck’ multiagency campaign to prevent a wave of evictions. One of the reasons the moratorium was put in place was to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by people put out on the streets and into shelters.”
• Gov. Gavin Newsom has not exactly been honest about his administration’s accomplishments regarding wildfire prevention. Actually, that’s an understatement. Per capradio.org: “An investigation from CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom found the governor has misrepresented his accomplishments and even disinvested in wildfire prevention. The investigation found Newsom overstated, by an astounding 690%, the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the very forestry projects he said needed to be prioritized to protect the state’s most vulnerable communities. Newsom has claimed that 35 ‘priority projects’ carried out as a result of his executive order resulted in fire prevention work on 90,000 acres. But the state’s own data show the actual number is 11,399.”
• A policy scholar, writing for The Conversation, looks at the Biden administration’s plan to send money to families with children—and wonders whether it will actually become a long-term thing: “In July 2021, households with up to 88% of all U.S. children will get their first of six no-strings-attached monthly payment from the federal government. The money comes from a temporary expansion of the child tax credit in the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package enacted in March. … For the first time in U.S. history, the government is establishing an allowance for families with children, ending the country’s status as an outlier among industrialized nations in lacking such a benefit. But as a longtime scholar of welfare policy and civic engagement, who spent years working in the government and think tanks studying controversies over earlier efforts to assist families in similar ways, I question whether the Biden administration will succeed at its goal of making this a long-term policy.”
• And finally … this is sad for journalism, and a bad sign regarding the prospects of freedom in Hong Kong: “The final edition of Hong Kong’s last remaining pro-democracy paper sold out in hours Thursday, as readers scooped up all 1 million copies of the Apple Daily, whose closure was yet another sign of China’s tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city,” The Associated Press reported. “… The newspaper said it was forced to cease operations after police froze $2.3 million of its assets, searched its office and arrested five top editors and executives last week, accusing them of foreign collusion to endanger national security.” Sigh.
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