Indy Digest: July 5, 2021
As the extended (for some) Fourth of July weekend draws to a close, it’s natural to look back at where we all were last year … when things, at least for most of us, were very, very different.
In the July 3, 2020, Daily Digest, I wrote: “Those of us here at Independent World Headquarters are planning on basically staying at home this weekend. We’ll support some of our fave restaurants by getting takeout and cocktails; have a Zoom happy hour or two with friends; and catch up on some much-needed rest. If you do decide to venture out this weekend, I recommend taking the advice of this (July 3, 2020) Los Angeles Times article: Assume everyone you’re around has the virus. Positivity and hospitalization rates are on the upswing, after all.”
This year, I started off the weekend on Friday evening at a barbecue at a friend’s house. About a dozen or so people were there, and we felt comfortable spending much of the time inside, rather than broiling outside—which was the only tenable option for seeing friends last July.
Yesterday, we celebrated the actual Fourth at another friend’s house, at another barbecue. This gathering was even larger. Hugs were exchanged—something that would have been a no-no last July.
Then there’s what we did on Saturday night: We joined a couple of friends for dinner, indoors, at Wilma and Frieda in downtown Palm Springs. We then enjoyed a quick cocktail at the fabulous PS Air Bar before going to a show—Desert Rose Playhouse’s The Miss Firecracker Contest, the first full theatrical production in the valley (that I know of) since the shutdowns began last March.
Going into last year’s Fourth of July weekend, I wrote last year that we’d be staying home—but I don’t remember anything about what we actually did. Due to the contrast, I can tell you I’ll never forget what we did during Fourth of July weekend 2021.
From the Independent
Dante From Sunny Junket: An Excerpt From ‘VIP Check-In,’ Part of New Short-Story Collection ‘Palm Springs Noir’
July 2, 2021
An excerpt from “VIP Check-In,” by Michael Craft, from new short-story collection Palm Springs Noir.
By Manuela Tobias, Nigel Duara and John Osborn D’Agostino, CalMatters
July 5, 2021
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature have extended an eviction moratorium. But that safety net has gaping holes—and thousands of renters have fallen through.
By Bob Grimm
July 5, 2021
Zola packs a lot into 86 minutes and acts as a precautionary tale: If somebody you just met suggests you tag along on a journey to […]
• We recently wrote about Lithium Valley—the potential economic bonanza at the Salton Sea, thanks to the fact that up to 40 percent of the planet’s future lithium supply can be found there. On Friday, it was revealed that a big-name company is coming to the area. According to a news release from Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia: “Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) applauds the agreement between General Motors (GM) and Controlled Thermal Resources to secure local and low-cost lithium. Controlled Thermal Resources’ Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field is located in Imperial County, California, the largest known geothermal resource in the world.”
• And here’s the announcement from GM, also made Friday: “General Motors has agreed to form a strategic investment and commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources to secure local and low-cost lithium. This lithium will be produced through a closed-loop, direct extraction process that results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing and lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared to traditional processes like pit mining or evaporation ponds. Lithium is a metal crucial to GM’s plans to make more affordable, higher mileage electric vehicles. The relationship between GM and CTR is expected to accelerate the adoption of lithium extraction methods that cause less impact to the environment. A significant amount of GM’s future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could come from CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, located in Imperial, California. With the help of GM’s investment, CTR’s closed-loop, direct extraction process will recover lithium from geothermal brine. As an anticipated part of its $35 billion global commitment to EVs and autonomous vehicles, GM will be the first company to make a multi-million dollar investment in CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen project. As the first investor, GM will have first rights on lithium produced by the first stage of the Hell’s Kitchen project, including an option for a multi-year relationship.”
• Last week’s release of a very-good June jobs report raised optimism about the improving economy. However, Business Insider notes, in sobering fashion: “Women and people of color are missing out on June’s celebrated wage and job growth.” Key quote: “Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported that June’s unemployment rate for Black Americans increased from May. Latino unemployment also remains far higher than the national average of 5.9%. … ‘I do think we’re still in a crisis, we’re still looking at really high unemployment rates, especially for Black women and Latinas again, and for Black men, it’s back in the double digits. So it’s 10% for Black men in June,’ Jasmine Tucker, the director of research at the National Women’s Law Center, told Insider. ‘If white men were at a double-digit unemployment rate, we would not be talking about ending these unemployment benefits.’ …”
• A massive ransomware attack hit companies around the world over the weekend. The Associated Press explains what happened: “The single biggest ransomware attack yet continued to bite Monday as more details emerged on how a Russia-linked gang breached the exploited software company. The criminals essentially used a tool that helps protect against malware to spread it globally. Thousands of organizations—largely firms that remotely manage the IT infrastructure of others—were infected in at least 17 countries in Friday’s assault. … Because the attack by the notorious REvil gang came just as a long Fourth of July weekend began, many more victims were expected to learn their fate when they return to the office Tuesday.”
• NBC News reports on what the attackers want: “The hacker gang behind an international crime spree that played out over the Fourth of July weekend says it has locked more than a million individual devices and is demanding $70 million in bitcoin to set them all free in one swoop. … Because many of Kaseya’s customers are companies that manage internet services for other businesses, the number of victims grew quickly. Instead of locking an individual organization, as ransomware gangs usually do, REvil locked each victim computer as a standalone target and initially asked for $45,000 to unlock each one.”
• About half the valley’s cities have their own police forces; the others contract with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to provide police services. Because the costs charged by the sheriff keep going up, some Riverside County cities commissioned a study to answer the question: Would it be cheaper to start their own police departments? According to The Press-Enterprise, the study results are in—and the answer is no, it would not be cheaper: “The report from Folsom-based Citygate Associates and commissioned by Canyon Lake, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, San Jacinto, Temecula and Wildomar found it would cost those cities less to stay with the sheriff than to form a joint law enforcement agency, an option pondered in recent years by cities that use deputies to protect their residents.” However, some city representatives are not happy with how the study was done.
• And finally … it turns out humans aren’t the only creatures getting vaccinated for protection against SARS-CoV-2. The Associated Press says: “A San Francisco Bay Area zoo is inoculating its big cats, bears and ferrets against the coronavirus as part of a national effort to protect animal species using an experimental vaccine. Tigers Ginger and Molly were the first two animals at the Oakland Zoo to get the vaccine this week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday. The doses were donated and developed by veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis in New Jersey. Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the zoo, said none of the animals have gotten the virus, but they wanted to be proactive. Tigers, black and grizzly bears, mountain lions and ferrets were the first to receive the first of two doses. Next are primates and pigs.”
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