Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: Jan. 6, 2021

Words matter.

This was the phrase that kept coming back to me as I watched one of the darkest days in this nation’s history unfold.

As the scene grew uglier and uglier in Washington, D.C., a debate among journalists began to percolate on social media: What words should be used to characterize the people who were forcing their way into the Capitol? At first, far too many media sources were calling them protesters.

No. That’s not right. Protests are generally peaceful.

So what is the right word? Later in the day, the word—an appropriate one, I think—being used by most media sources was “mob.” In some cases, that word was being modified with “Trump supporters.” Also appropriate.

It’s worth noting that Fox News was continuing to use “protesters.”

When President-elect Biden spoke today, he said that President Trump needed to “go on national television now to fulfil his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.” As NPR noted: “Biden said that the words of a president matter. At their best, he said, they can inspire. But at their worst, he added, they can incite.” Biden also called what was happening an insurrection.

Shortly after Biden spoke, President Trump released a video with his own statement, which was, frankly, scary. While the president did call on the people in question to go home, he also called them “very special” and said he loved them (!) while again repeating the bogus and dangerous claims that the election was stolen.

The statement was so unprecedented that Twitter, at first, disabled the ability to retweet, reply to or comment on it “due to a risk of violence.” Facebook went one step further—removing the video because, as the company’s vice president for integrity explained, “on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.” Later in the day, Twitter also removed the video and locked the president’s account, at least temporarily.

Jan. 6, 2021 is a day that will go into history books as one of the most awful moments in our nation’s history, because the words—of a narcissistic leader who is desperate to remain in power after losing an election—mattered.

Words matter.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Know Your Neighbors: Meet Pam Munter, a Writer, Retired Clinical Psychologist, Singer—and So Much More

By Anita Rufus

January 6, 2021

Get to know Palm Desert Pam Munter—holder of six academic degrees, retired psychologist, writer, singer and more.

And Now, the News

Before the links… two things. First: Given the ever-changing nature of what’s happening in Washington, D.C., right now, I am not including links to coverage of that. You know where to find coverage—and what you find will be newer and more up-to-date than any links I could include here.

Second: Given the magnitude of what’s happening in Washington, D.C., I considered forgoing the links today, because, well, some of them seem oddly trivial in the midst of an insurrection.

However … these stories are most certainly not trivial. They all concern matters of importance to all of us—including the pandemic. So … here they are.

• What happened in Washington, D.C.—and the fact that pro-Trump activists were also gathering in Sacramento—caused Gov. Gavin Newsom to cancel a press conference he had scheduled today. The Sacramento Bee noted that cancellation was done, in part, to keep Newsom’s staff safe.

Most major media outlets have called both Georgia U.S. Senate races for the Democrats. The wins by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock mean the Senate will be split 50-50—with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking any ties that occur.

President-elect Biden has made a fascinating selection to become his administration’s attorney general: Merrick Garland, the man whose nomination by President Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court was ignored by Mitch McConnell.

• As for the raging pandemic: The latest Riverside County COVID-19 District 4 report shows things are still very bad out there. (District 4 = the Coachella Valley and rural points eastward.) During the week ending Jan. 3, 28 of our neighbors were killed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The FDA earlier this week issued a warning about the Curative COVID-19 tests. Those are the kind used at the Rancho Mirage Library testing location. The warning said the test could result in false negative results, because “when the test is not performed in accordance with its authorization or as described in the authorized labeling, there is a greater risk that the results of the test may not be accurate.” Modern Healthcare reported that the CEO of Curative said he disagreed with the FDA’s assessment.

Riverside County has launched a new website that tracks the status of COVID-19 vaccinations. The Riverside Press-Enterprise explains that the numbers come from the state’s database. (The state, by the way, is updating California-wide stats here.)

• While other media sources have since reported on this story, we’ll go straight to the online publication that first reported it: The Mendocino Voice explains what happened when the freezer that holds the Moderna vaccines failed at Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Northern California: “Doctors immediately realized that it would be necessary to distribute all these 850 doses on an emergency basis, lest they go bad and become unviable. So the staff of the hospital began to make calls, send texts, call in staff that was off, and prepared to administer all the doses.” Fortunately, the hospital succeeded, as the Los Angeles Times noted.

• The Times also is reporting that some people are cutting in line and getting vaccinated earlier than they should be: “At one South L.A. vaccination site, a Times reporter watched as about 100 people were admitted for immunizations without showing proof that they worked in the healthcare industry. One woman said she received the vaccine at Hansen Dam Recreation Area in Pacoima even after telling workers she was not a healthcare employee.”

AirBnB appears to be finally taking steps to limit bookings in California during the stay-at-home order, when recreational trips are not supposed to be allowed. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “On Saturday, Airbnb rolled out a new ‘attestation’ form on its website that guests must fill out prior to booking in California. It prompts users to review regional shutdown restrictions and ‘attest that their stay is permitted within local guidelines,’ according to an email from Airbnb to Tahoe officials.”

• Well, this stinks: After the passage of Prop 22, the owner of Vons and Albertsons has decided to layoff its delivery drivers and replace them with DoorDash. While DoorDash claims the passage of Prop 22 wasn’t a factor in the decision, SFGate reports that labor activists are pretty sure it was.

• A professor of health policy, writing for The Conversation, discusses how the legalization of marijuana at the national level has become at least a possibility: “In early December, the House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or the MORE Act. The bill sought to decriminalize marijuana nationally by removing cannabis from the federal government’s Schedule I controlled substance list. … With a new Congress just seated, it would need to be reintroduced and pass again in the House. Even if that happens, it is unlikely to get through the Senate. Still, the initial success of the MORE Act is an important sign that sentiment in Washington is changing.”

• Finally, Rolling Stone looks at the controversial phenomenon that is Gays Over Covid, an Instagram account that is shaming gay men who are disregarding pandemic restrictions and concerns in order to party:  “Since last summer, the anonymous proprietor behind @GaysOverCovid has been doing aggressive sleuthing work, posting photos of gay parties during the pandemic as well as the personal information of many of the attendees. In one post, @GaysOverCovid outed a health care worker who had received the COVID-19 vaccine and then traveled to Puerto Vallarta for the party.”

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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...