Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: Jan. 13, 2021

You know things have veered waaaaay outside the bounds of “normal” when a comic starring a pig and a rat has to postpone publishing because of a storyline involving an insurrection.

The comic strip in question is Pearls Before Swine, one of the better entries on daily-newspaper comics pages around the country. The Press Democrat, out of Santa Rosa, explains what happened: “(Cartoonist Stephan) Pastis submitted the strips more than a month ago and never meant to comment on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., by supporters of President Donald Trump as Congress met to recognize the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden, a syndicate spokesman said. Rather than risk reader misperception that the strips had been inspired by the uprising, Andrews McMeel Syndication, which distributes ‘Pearls Before Swine,’ decided to withdraw them from the publication schedule.”

What, exactly, happens in these strips? According to The Press Democrat, Pastis summarized the storyline thusly: “Guard Duck, in his little army helmet, invades the White House to remove President Rat, whose elite guard unit (the crocodiles) are lured away from their post by a Cinnabon. Rat scrambles to pardon himself before he is dragged from the Oval Office.”

Pastis then went on to add: “I think that the bottom line is that when you do a series of comic strips about an insurrection in the United States government, you never think there will be an actual insurrection in the United States government.”

This is not the first time the weirdness of 2020-2021 has infringed upon entertainment plotlines previously thought to be safely out of the bounds of what could possibly happen. Most notably, the frantic attempts by Donald Trump’s campaign to stop the vote count in some states, and keep counting it in others, resembled a bonkers Veep plotline from 2016.

I DO believe, however, that this is the first time the weirdness of 2020-2021 has infringed too closely upon a plotline involving a Guard Duck and a Cinnabon.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Opening a New Restaurant Now? Yes, They Are: Chad Gardner and Willie Rhine Are Bringing an Elevated Gastropub Concept to the Former Draughtsman Space

By Andrew Smith

January 13, 2021

The men behind 533 Viet Fusion and Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge are joining forces to open 1501 Uptown Gastropub—despite the pandemic.

Unsung Heroes: Volunteer Cori Muro Brings Her Expertise and Love of Little Ones to Mama’s House

By Madeline Zuckerman

January 12, 2021

Meet Cori Muro, a former law-enforcement officer who is a volunteer at Mama’s House, which provides shelter for women in crisis pregnancies.

And Now, the News

• If you’re 65 or older, take note: Riverside County JUST announced it is now including people 65 and older in its vaccination efforts—including a clinic in Indio on Sunday. Registration is required, and details are here.

• You can read more about the state order which allows all people 65+ to get vaccinated, which came after a federal order, amidst all sorts of confusion, here via the Los Angeles Times.

• Related, from Riverside County: “Riverside County officials activated its Type III All-Hazard Incident Management Team (IMT) to help coordinate the planning and implementation of a massive vaccination program for more than two million county residents. The team will work seven days a week to secure locations and stand up large, regional Point-of-Dispensing (POD) sites that can vaccinate thousands of residents each day. The PODs are expected to dispense thousands of vaccines each day once they are fully operational in response to the high demand for the vaccine.”

• These vaccines can’t come fast enough, as the latest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report shows. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and rural points eastward.) Again, it’s all depressing news—especially in terms of skyrocketing hospitalizations; a terrible positivity rate during the week ending Jan. 10; and, worst of all, 18 more deaths.

• Another day, another huge historic occurrence: Donald Trump today became the first president ever to be impeached for a second time. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to impeach.

Significant promising news on the vaccine front: Early data on the single-dose, easier-to-handle Johnson and Johnson vaccine is quite positive. This fantastic news, however, was tempered by news that production of the vaccine is being delayed somewhat.

More good news, before we return to the scary stuff: The folks at Moderna say their vaccine should give recipients at least a year of immunity.

• Oh, you wacky Americans, you. A political science professor, writing for The Conversation, says we may collectively be a bit like Goldilocks when it comes to getting vaccinated: “In a new peer-reviewed study, I found that the vaccine Americans most prefer may not reflect the choices we actually have. Americans are most likely to intend to vaccinate when a vaccine is made in the U.S., administered in a single dose, over 90% effective and carrying a less than 1 in 100 chance of experiencing minor side effects, and has spent just over a year in development. However, even under these ideal conditions, the likelihood that the average respondent in the study would choose to vaccinate is just 68%.”

• And here we return to the scary stuff: The Washington Post, via SFGate, reported today: “Weeks before a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, right-wing activist Ali Alexander told his followers that he was planning something big for Jan. 6. Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, said he hatched the plan—coinciding with Congress’ vote to certify the electoral college votes—alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs, Ariz., Mo Brooks, Ala., and Paul Gosar, Ariz., all hard-line Trump supporters.”

• Related: The state is beefing up security in Sacramento, just in case.

• Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., AirBnB is cancelling and blocking reservations for next week, and reimbursing hosts for lost revenue. Why? According to The Washington Post, AirBnB “found accounts for ‘numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building,’ the platform announced Wednesday morning. The announcement cited Tuesday reports ‘regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration’ and warnings by the region’s leaders that visitors should refrain from traveling to the District over the next week.”

Sorta related, maybe, comes this story from NPR: “Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, says an investigation is underway looking at ‘potentially members of Congress’ who gave tours to pro-Trump rioters prior to the insurrection last week on the U.S. Capitol.”

• Following the attempted insurrection last week, the House beefed up security, including a new requirement that everyone go through a metal detector before entering the House floor—a move that caused some GOP House members to freak out. NBC News breaks it down, including this complaint from Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko: “For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through,” she said. “These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!”

A whole bunch of companies and PACs have announced it will no longer give political donations to the members of the House and Senate who voted against confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. The Hill has a partial list of those companies here.

• A weird situation may be taking place at the FDA during Trump’s last days in office. Politico reports: “The Food and Drug Administration cycled through three different top lawyers on Monday, a personnel shake-up driven by ongoing clashes between the agency and the Health and Human Services department that oversees it, said four officials with knowledge of the deliberations.” What could this mean? “Three FDA officials said they were bracing for HHS to push through additional last-minute policy changes, noting that HHS on Monday announced new deregulatory policies. … The moves, which roll back some of FDA’s reviews, were opposed by the agency and its allies, who argued that it weakened regulators’ authority amid the pandemic.”

• Speaking of weird situations: President-elect Biden’s inaugural committee has returned a $500 donation from former Sen. Barbara Boxer (who is a part-time Coachella Valley resident). Why? According to Axios: She had “registered as a foreign agent for a Chinese surveillance firm accused of abetting the country’s mass internment of Uighur Muslims.” (The San Francisco Chronicle reports Boxer de-registered on Tuesday.)

• Finally, our partners at CalMatters take a look at the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsomincluding some weird and perhaps inappropriate language used by state Democrats to characterize the effort. Take note of the appearance of frequent Republican consultant Randy Economy, who was famously a consultant for the mess that was Alfie Pettit’s 2019 Palm Springs City Council campaign—before disavowing Pettit with some rather choice words.

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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...