Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Sept. 8, 2022

I have a long and varied history with Christianity

I was baptized as a Lutheran. I went to summer Bible school at a Baptist church, and I fell in with the Latter-day Saints crowd in high school; I actually joined the LDS church in college, only to leave five years later, disillusioned by the church’s fervent support of anti-gay-marriage ballot measures.

I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the good that’s done by a lot of churches. But I’m becoming increasingly disgusted—and concerned—about the so-called Christian movements that actively work to control people, often using cries of “religious freedom” as their weapon.

A couple of recent news stories illustrate this problem. First up is an absolutely stunning ruling out of Texas yesterday. The Texas Tribune explains:

A federal judge in Fort Worth agreed Wednesday with a group of Christian conservatives that Affordable Care Act requirements to cover HIV prevention drugs violate their religious freedom.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor also agreed that aspects of the federal government’s system for deciding what preventive care is covered by the ACA violates the Constitution.

O’Connor’s ruling could threaten access to sexual and reproductive health care for more than 150 million working Americans who are on employer-sponsored health care plans. It is likely to be appealed by the federal government. …

One of the plaintiffs, Dr. Steven Hotze of Katy, often sues the government and elected officials over politically charged issues, including fights with GOP state leaders over emergency COVID-19 orders and an attempt to stop Harris County from expanding voter access.

In the complaint, Hotze said he is unwilling to pay for a health insurance plan for his employees that covers HIV prevention drugs such as Truvada and Descovy, known generally as PrEP, “because these drugs facilitate or encourage homosexual behavior, which is contrary to Dr. Hotze’s sincere religious beliefs.”

Wow. How is it in any way Christian to actively work to keep potentially live-saving drugs from people?

Next up is a story published yesterday by Time magazine. The headline: “Public Libraries Face Threats to Funding and Collections as Book Bans Surge.” Here’s how the piece starts:

Dayna Williams-Capone, director of library services for the city of Victoria, Texas, has worked in public libraries for 25 years. In all of that time, she says, she never faced demands to remove books from her collection—until last year.

In 2021, a group of Victoria residents requested the library reevaluate 44 books for removal from its shelves. They argued many of the books, including LGBTQ children’s books Worm Loves Worm and Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, were inappropriate for young people. Williams-Capone says her library staff reviewed the titles and determined the books would remain in the collection. Most dealt with LGBTQ identities, Williams-Capone says, and they felt it was important for their collection to contain material that reflected the diversity of Victoria.

But on August 1 of this year, that same group of residents, who could not be reached for comment, brought their concerns to the county commission. (The county does not fund the library, but does own the building it operates out of.) Commissioner Clint Ives tells TIME he was alarmed with the material they presented him and felt it was “pornographic.” He says he also took issue with the availability of “alternative lifestyle children’s books.” At the August 1 meeting, Ives said that he would support “an eviction notice to the city of Victoria, giving them 90 days to come to terms with this group (of concerned residents), or they can put their library somewhere else.”

Victoria Mayor Jeff Bauknight tells TIME that he has directed the library to revise its collection development policy stating that no “pornographic or obscene materials” can appear in the section of the library for ages 17 or below. If that policy isn’t in effect by October 1, he says, the city council might consider freezing the library’s budget to purchase any new materials.

In other words: Elected officials are trying to censor what titles a library has by threatening that library’s funding and very existence if the library doesn’t remove books that discuss LGBTQ identities from their shelves. In the United States, in 2022.

These moves have nothing to do with Christianity, nor do they have to do with religious freedom, because making insurance plans offer PrEP and offering LGBTQ-themed books do not affect these complainers’ religious freedom in any way, shape or form. It has everything to do with trying to control other people’s lives—and it’s vile.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

JJUUJJUU Mode: Desert Daze Founder Phil Pirrone Is Making Time for His Psychedelic Rock Band

By Matt King

September 6th, 2022

JJUUJJUU uses rock instruments to stay rooted in a groove—but effects pedals, layered guitars and synth sounds, and Pirrone’s eerie and delayed vocal processor give the band a jammy, trippy feel.

Content Shifter: Six New Shows to Stream in September

By Bill Frost

September 8th, 2022

Our reviewer found six promising shows debuting this month. OK, five. Maybe.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Sept. 8, 2022!

By Staff

September 8th, 2022

Topics addressed on this week’s comics page include drum majorette squads, linen closets, pieces of paper, tonsils-removal—and more!

More News

The Fairview fire near Hemet has burned more than 18,600 acres as of this writing. Two people died trying to flee the blaze shortly after it started on Monday. The Los Angeles Times explains: “The sound of exploding propane tanks filled Avery Canyon on Monday afternoon as flames from the Fairview fire gnawed at a grassy ridge near Jeremy Fields’ ranch home. A sheriff’s deputy called out with a loudspeaker, urging Fields and his family to evacuate. He and his wife, Gladys Nicomedez, gathered what they could—insurance papers, some clothes, their son’s inhalers and medication— before gunning it down Gibbel Road, the only way into and out of their hillside neighborhood. The family was among the last to leave the canyon. They would learn later that the fast-moving fire had overcome their neighbors, killing them both. … The fire was one of two deadly blazes in California during the broiling hot Labor Day weekend, with the Mill fire in Siskiyou County also claiming two lives and bringing the year’s wildfire death toll to nine, including four killed in Northern California’s McKinney fire and one in Petaluma’s Roblar fire earlier this summer. Officials said the sobering number underscores how the state’s climate change-fueled blazes are outpacing emergency alert systems and posing new threats to residents.”

• There’s a good chance you received an emergency alert on your phone yesterday regarding the state’s flex alert. Our partners at CalMatters explain how that came to be:The decision from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration to send emergency text messages to 27 million Californians around 5:50 p.m. Tuesday urging them to conserve energy had an immediate impact: Demand fell by about 2,000 megawatts within 20 to 30 minutes, bringing the state back from the brink of outages, Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator, said Wednesday. Mainzer described the texts as ‘a tool of absolute last resort,’ a message Newsom echoed at a Wednesday press conference when he said his team ‘spent the last four or five days debating the merits and demerits’ of sending the alerts.”.

• Related: An engineering professor, writing for The Conversation, says the U.S.’ aging infrastructure is failing in the face of the extreme weather caused by climate change: “The 1960s and 1970s were a golden age of infrastructure development in the U.S., with the expansion of the interstate system and widespread construction of new water treatment, wastewater and flood control systems reflecting national priorities in public health and national defense. But infrastructure requires maintenance, and, eventually, it has to be replaced. That hasn’t been happening in many parts of the country. Increasingly, extreme heat and storms are putting roads, bridges, water systems and other infrastructure under stress. Two recent examples—an intense heat wave that pushed California’s power grid to its limits in September 2022, and the failure of the water system in Jackson, Mississippi, amid flooding in August—show how a growing maintenance backlog and increasing climate change are turning the 2020s and 2030s into a golden age of infrastructure failure.” Sigh.

• I have to give huge credit to the staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for their reporting on the murder of one of their own, reporter Jeff German—and their role in leading police to the alleged murderer, Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles. German had been reporting on turmoil in Telles’ office; after that reporting, Telles lost his re-election bid. Here’s the latest story from the Review-Journal on the matter. The lede plus: “Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles will be held without bail in the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, a judge ruled Thursday. Earlier in the day, Las Vegas police revealed that Telles’ DNA was found at the crime scene. ‘This is a terrible and jarring homicide—one that has deeply impacted Las Vegas,’ Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at a morning news conference. ‘Every murder is tragic, but the killing of a journalist is particularly troublesome.’ During a later court hearing, prosecutors linked German’s killing to his reporting on Telles’ conduct as an elected official.”

• The Los Angeles Unified School District has been hit by a massive malware attack. The Los Angeles Times reports: “The private data of more than 400,000 students could be at risk as federal and local investigators assess the damage wreaked by a massive cyberattack against the Los Angeles Unified School District, which overcame a complete digital shutdown to open schools on schedule Tuesday. The district did not know whether student information—assessments, grades, class schedules, disciplinary records, reports about disabilities—was accessed by hackers through the district’s online student management system. ‘We’re still going through student files because … the student management system was touched,’ Supt. Alberto Carvalho said at a downtown news conference, accompanied by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore. He said the hackers have encryption skills to cover their tracks and ‘shut us out of what they have or what they saw.’ … Carvalho said the attack, discovered Saturday at 10:30 p.m., was launched by a ‘ransomware tool that temporarily disabled systems, froze others and had access to some degree of data.’ There are indications that the hack could have originated in a foreign country, and Carvalho said there has not been a ransom demand.”

• And finally … Here are two links on the death of Queen Elizabeth II. First is a nice explainer from BBC News on what will happen in the coming days and months. A snippet: “It is expected that Charles will be officially proclaimed King on Saturday. This will happen at St James’s Palace in London, in front of a ceremonial body known as the Accession Council. This is made up of members of the Privy Council— a group of senior MPs, past and present, and peers—as well as some senior civil servants, Commonwealth high commissioners, and the Lord Mayor of London. More than 700 people are entitled in theory to attend, but given the short notice, the actual number is likely to be far fewer. At the last Accession Council in 1952, about 200 attended. At the meeting, the death of Queen Elizabeth will be announced by the Lord President of the Privy Council (currently Penny Mordaunt MP), and a proclamation will be read aloud.”

• Second: Sunnylands put out a statement regarding the queen’s death, focusing on her visit to the Rancho Mirage estate in 1983. A portion: “The Annenbergs were honored to welcome Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to a luncheon at Sunnylands on Feb. 27, 1983, when the royal couple was in California for a 10-day tour.  It was one of the rare times that The Queen visited a private home in the United States. ‘Your Majesty, your presence brightly rekindles our five-and-a-half years in Britain, certainly the proudest years for Lee and me,’ Walter said in a toast to The Queen. While at Sunnylands, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent time in the Room of Memories surrounded by letters, pictures, and other memorabilia the Annenbergs collected during their lifetimes, including the holiday greeting cards that the Annenbergs received year after year from the Queen Mother. And, although it was raining, the party toured the grounds as planned. ‘It looks like I brought the British climate to California!’ the Queen joked.”

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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...