Daily Digest: Jan. 15, 2021
After Wednesday’s Daily Digest, I received an unsubscribe notice with this note from a now-former reader:
Your inappropriate comments about President Trump caused me to realize that I don’t trust anything you may say about anything. I don’t need you to clutter my space with your drivel.
The notice arrived in the midst of an ongoing discussion on one of the journalism listservs to which I subscribe. The topic at hand: protective gear for journalists.
“Have any of you purchased helmets or bulletproof vests for any of your staffs?” one editor asked.
A few emails later came this response: “I have a source for Kevlar helmets we can use. Anyone want to do a group buy?”
The reason for this discussion, of course, is the anti-media fervor that President Trump has lathered up over the last five years. Before his run for the presidency, I never imagined I’d be watching a discussion about the need for bulletproof vests take place in a journalism group. But here we are. It’s a miracle that no journalists were seriously injured on Jan. 6—a day when angry Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol and, among other things, carved “Murder the Media” into a wooden door.
While I honestly can’t find any comments that could be considered “inappropriate” about President Trump in that Jan. 13 Daily Digest … if I did make one, you’ll just have to forgive me. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about someone who has repeatedly referred to my colleagues and me “enemy of the people”—and whose followers talk about wanting us dead.
From the Independent
‘There Are Just Such Glaring Issues’: After Years of Cuts, The Desert Sun’s Newsroom Employees Form a Union
By Kevin Fitzgerald
January 15, 2021
The employees of the 94-year-old daily want to make sure their newsroom remains strong and diverse—but parent company Gannett is resisting the unionization effort.
A Live Show, Pandemic Style: Dezart Performs’ ‘Mental Amusements’ Does the Seemingly Impossible—It Brings the Freshness of Live Theater to Computer Screens
By Valerie-Jean (VJ) Hume
January 15, 2021
Vinny DePonto’s one-man show is a surprisingly engaging delight.
By Brett Newton
January 15, 2021
Our beer columnist looks back on 2020—and is not too optimistic about what 2021 will bring in the Coachella Valley beer scene.
January 14, 2021
On this week’s doubly impeached weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorensen explains how the country got to this point; The K Chronicles spells out the […]
And Now, the News
• After Riverside County announced that anyone 65 and older could get the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, the county’s announced clinics filled up within hours. Today, the county announced more clinics … and they filled up within hours, too. Keep watching the county vaccination site (click here to access it) for details, folks.
• Sigh. This lede from The Washington Post just sucks (the content, not the writing): “When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line. Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will remain largely flat, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions.”
• And the U.S. is racing against the clock to get as many people vaccinated as possible because of that SARS-CoV-2 variant that is about 50 percent more contagious, as explained by the Los Angeles Times: “A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Friday … stated that new modeling indicates the variant ‘has the potential to increase the U.S. pandemic trajectory in the coming months,’ with the projection showing ‘rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant variant in March.'” As a result, L.A. county is considering closing malls and outdoor gyms.
• The Los Angeles Times also brings us this unbelievable news: “One in three Los Angeles County residents have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to new estimates by county scientists, an astonishing sign of how rapidly the virus is spreading in the hard-hit region. … The rising number of those infected has actually slowed the pace of coronavirus transmission, as the virus is increasingly coming into contact with people who have survived the infection and likely developed immunity.”
• Meanwhile, Chicago’s mayor has some very different ideas about the pandemic: She wants to open indoor dining there as quickly as possible. Why? “While making her public pitch, (Mayor Lori) Lightfoot said restaurants are highly regulated, receive regular inspections and have gone ‘above and beyond to put in mitigation controls inside of the restaurants,'” the Chicago Tribune reports. “… Lightfoot also said people are holding underground parties that spread COVID-19 and that reopening bars and restaurants to indoor service could help. ‘Let’s bring it out of the shadows, let’s allow them to have some recreation in restaurants, in bars, where we can actually work with responsible owners and managers to regulate and protect people from COVID-19.'”
• According to CNBC: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics across the United States, according to new details of his COVID-19 vaccination plan released by his transition team on Friday. The Biden administration will also ‘quickly jumpstart’ efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies across the U.S., which should ensure that Americans have access to doses at facilities only miles from their home, according to the plan.”
• Biden also announced who would be in charge of the federal vaccination effort: Dr. David Kessler, a former head of the FDA. Key quote, from The New York Times: “Dr. Kessler is close to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor who became the leading governmental voice on the coronavirus pandemic. The two worked closely to speed the development and approval of drugs that changed the course of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. When George Bush appointed him to lead the FDA in 1990, AIDS was raging in the United States. During Dr. Kessler’s tenure, the FDA issued new rules designed to speed drug approval. The pharmaceutical industry developed a class of antiviral drugs to treat AIDS/H.I.V., called protease inhibitors, some of which were approved within 40 days.”
• The president-elect also plans to elevate the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to a cabinet-level agency. The Washington Post says the move “signals the importance of science to the incoming administration.”
• In the category of news that sounds like a bonkers joke, even though it’s not a joke, and is actually terrifying, we bring you this: A Washington Post photographer snapped a picture of the My Pillow guy’s notes on his way into a meeting in the White House today. What was on the mind of Michael Lindell, one of Trump’s most ardent supporters? “The CEO of MyPillow has a strategy for shuffling around administration staffers to gather up the evidence of electoral fraud he thinks exists—and to use military resources in an effort to keep Trump in power, or, as he apparently puts it, to protect the Constitution.”
• Details continue to come out about what, exactly, happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6—and some of those details are bone-chilling. The Washington Post reported today: “The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came perilously close to Vice President Pence, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex—enough time for the marauders to rush inside the building and approach his location, according to law enforcement officials and video footage from that day. … About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing in the Senate, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate.”
• The link between white-supremacist organizations and the events of Jan. 6 are also becoming more apparent. The Post says: “Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for pro-Trump events Jan. 6 … according to people familiar with evidence gathered in the FBI’s investigation. The majority of the watch-listed individuals in Washington that day are suspected white supremacists whose past conduct so alarmed investigators that their names had been previously entered into the national Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, a massive set of names flagged as potential security risks, these people said.”
• And a Georgetown University law professor, writing for The Conversation, notes: “The apparent participation of off-duty officers in the rally that morphed into a siege on the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6 has revived fears about white supremacists within police departments. These concerns are not new. White supremacy, the belief that white people are superior to other races, has long tainted elements within law enforcement.”
• The Wall Street Journal (subscription required to read the whole story) points out that things may not always be as they seem: A U.S. Capitol Police officer who was suspended for wearing a red MAGA hat claims he was actually wearing the hat for a very worthwhile reason: “The officer, identified by The Wall Street Journal as Lt. Tarik Khalid Johnson, has told colleagues the images weren’t what they seemed. The MAGA cap was a ruse that was part of an unusual plan to rescue more than a dozen trapped police officers during the Jan. 6 riot, the officers said he told them. And one witness said the lieutenant’s action enabled a set of doors to the Capitol to be closed, shutting off an entry point to more intruders.”
• Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom has mobilized 1,000 members of the National Guard due to threats of unrest and violence on and around inauguration day. According to The Associated Press, via SFGate: “The state also erected a temporary chain link fence around the state Capitol, bolstering other temporary and permanent barriers, and the California Highway Patrol has refused to issue permits for rallies that had been planned there.”
• In other news, the National Rifle Association has filed for bankruptcy. CNBC says: “The filing comes six months after New York state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the NRA for allegedly misappropriating funds. The advocacy group said that it would restructure as a Texas nonprofit to exit from what it described as ‘a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York,’ where it is currently registered.”
• OK, now how about a speck of good news? The city of Rancho Mirage is offering another set of grants to small businesses of up to $10,000. And in Cathedral City, the municipality is offering grants of up to $7,500 to businesses with five or fewer employees; and “physical-improvement focused forgivable loans” of up to $20,000 for businesses with 25 or fewer full-time employees. Trust me when I say a whole lot of local small businesses can use all the help they can get.
• Finally, I was again a guest this week on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast, along with Dr. Laura Rush, and hosts John Taylor, Shann Carr and Brad Fuhr. We discuss the slow news week (sarcasm alert) that was.
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Thanks, as always for reading—and please have a safe but enjoyable weekend.