Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Feb. 24, 2022

We’re all feeling a range of emotions regarding the war in Ukraine.

On one end of the spectrum are people who are deeply and severely worried about the war. On the other are people who don’t care at all, likely because they think the war will have no effect on them, and they somehow aren’t moved by the horrors and dangers the war is causing 44.1 million Ukrainians.

If you fall on the “no effect” end of the spectrum, well, I have some bad news for you: The war in Ukraine will definitely affect you.

In The Conversation, William Hauk, an associate professor of economics at the University of South Carolina, explains the many direct effects the war will have on Americans. For example:

The most obvious costs to Americans will be at the gas pump. Russia produces approximately 12% of the world’s oil and 17% of its natural gas. That makes it the world’s third-biggest producer of oil and second-largest for gas. It’s also the biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe, which gets nearly half of its supply from Russia. … A disruption in one regional market will eventually affect the world market. Since the invasion, crude prices have spiked above $100 and are likely to go even higher.

And then there’s this:

While Russia is a major producer of fuels, Ukraine is a big exporter of food. Ukraine produces 16% of the world’s corn and 12% of its wheat, as well as being a significant exporter of barley and rye. … U.S. grocery prices were up 7.4% in January from a year earlier. Because demand for food is typically not very sensitive to changes in price—people need to eat no matter the expense—an increase in the cost of food production typically gets passed along to consumers.

Aaaand then there’s this:

The U.S. central bank is very worried about the pace of inflation in the U.S. and plans to raise interest rates to fight it. What’s happening in Ukraine could complicate its plans. If the crisis in Ukraine adds to the upward pressure on prices, that can feed inflation and it could force the Fed to take more drastic measures. Some economists believe the U.S. could soon see 10% inflation—up from 7.5% now—in the case of a full-scale invasion, as we’re witnessing now. The U.S. hasn’t seen inflation that high since October 1981. If the Fed decides it has to act more forcefully to tame inflation, that would not only raise borrowing costs for companies and consumers—affecting everything from business loans to mortgages and student debt—but could put the economy at risk of a recession.

War is awful—and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the worst war in Europe since World War II, is going to cause pain around the world.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

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The Indy Endorsement: The Pad See Ew at Talay Thai Restaurant

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The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Feb. 24, 2022!

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Topics included on this week’s comics page include sales marketing advice, NFTs, the farmers’ market, boring legal news—and more!

More News

The news from the most recent Palm Springs wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2 couldn’t have been much better: The amount of the virus in the water on Feb. 14 and 15 was as low as it’s been since early November. If the decreases continue—or even if the levels stay stable—I expect the city of Palm Springs to soon end its indoor mask mandate … possibly very soon. Stay tuned.

The latest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report also shows encouraging signs. (District 4 includes the Coachella Valley and points to the east.) Hospitalizations continue to fall, as did the weekly positivity rate, to a still-too-high 10.4 percent, during the week ending on Feb. 20. I expect the rates to keep dropping, based on those aforementioned wastewater test results. But despite the improving news, COVID-19 remains deadly: Four of our neighbors died due to the disease last week.

Expect new COVID-19 restriction guidelines to be released by the CDC tomorrow. CNN reports: “CDC will hold a news briefing Friday afternoon to discuss changes to COVID-19 metrics. ‘It’s time to shift from panic mode to cautiously moving forward,’ a CDC scientist who is involved with the process told CNN on Thursday. ‘We still need to be worried about [COVID] but maybe not all the time.’ The CDC currently advises people who live in counties with substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission to wear masks indoors. The agency will not be changing that guidance, but will be changing the way it assesses ‘community levels of disease,’ by shifting from looking at cases alone to looking at ‘meaningful consequences’ of the virus such as hospitalizations, emergency room visits and deaths.

• Wow, this is awful. NBC News reports on some hideous news out of Texas: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on ‘licensed professionals’ and ‘members of the general public’ to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care. The directive was part of a letter Abbott, a Republican, sent Tuesday to the Department of Family and Protective Services, calling on it to ‘conduct a prompt and thorough investigation’ of any reported instances of minors undergoing ‘elective procedures for gender transitioning.’ Abbott’s letter follows an opinion released Monday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which stated that allowing minors to receive transition care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery is child abuse under state law.”

• Heading back to Ukraine news: Be VERY careful to make sure the news you’re seeing on social media regarding the war is legitimate. Kate Starbird, an expert on crisis informatics and online rumors, offers this advice: “As we turn to social media for information, let’s be extra careful that we don’t become unwitting agents in the spread of disinformation. Go slow. Vet your sources. Be wary of unfamiliar accounts. Check their profile. Are they brand new? Or low follower? What were they tweeting a couple of weeks or months ago. Make sure they are who they say they are. If you’re not sure, it’s okay to not retweet.”

The Russian misinformation campaign has been so successful that The Associated Press is now publishing lists of verified facts under the header “Sorting fact, disinformation after Russian attack on Ukraine.”

The Conversation examines the goals Vladimir Putin has in starting this war—and what may come next. A snippet: “The increasing hostilities threaten to exacerbate a crisis of internally displaced peoples and refugees. At least 1.5 million people have already been forced to leave their homes in Donetsk and Luhansk. Current estimates project that some 5 million Ukrainians might be forced to leave the country if Russia invades further. Putin’s recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics could have a spillover effect on other territorial disputes in the region. Some believe that Transnistria, located on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, could be the next to receive recognition from Russia. The recognition of separatist claims in Ukraine could just be the start of a greater trend of Russian action to capture more former Soviet territories.” So terrible..

• And finally … closer to home, our friends at the Palm Springs Post tagged along on the first Riverside County point-in-time homeless count since 2020. A taste: “Armed with a clipboard, a map, and an app on their phones for conducting surveys, (Steve) Wibben and a team of three others were the last of more than a half dozen teams to depart the Palm Springs Convention Center just after sunrise. His team’s destination was in South Palm Springs, where one of 30 areas known to contain clusters of homeless individuals had been identified in an earlier ‘soft count.’ Step by step on a rare cold and rainy morning the team explored an area identified as section 17—roughly between Plaza del Sol and Baristo Road. The team peered behind bushes and dumpsters and inside drainage culverts, scoured vacant land and the front of businesses, ready to offer ‘incentive bags’ filled with vital supplies to anyone who would agree to an interview. After walking section 17 they headed off to other parts of town, having counted two homeless individuals sleeping at a bus stop, but evidence of many more. In total, the team spent 2.5 hours in four quadrants, observed 11 homeless individuals—including a pair living in a car— and conducted three interviews.”

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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...