Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: Feb. 17, 2021

Happy Wednesday, all.

I’ve spent much of the day editing copy—in fact, I just finished editing a fantastic 2,400 word piece that’ll be posted tomorrow at, and will be the cover story in our March print edition.

However, as a result of all this editing, at the moment, my brain is essentially peat moss.

Because of this, as well as the fact that there’s a ton of news … let’s get right to the links!

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Egg-cellent Art: Old Town Artisan Studios’ ‘Eggstravaganza’ Raises Money for the Organization’s Heralded Outreach Program

By Jimmy Boegle

February 17, 2021

Eggstravaganza will raise funds for Old Town Artisan Studios’ outreach program, which includes the local Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA, senior centers and Alzheimer’s […]

Know Your Neighbors: Meet Sally Olins, the ‘Coffee House Rabbi’ and Compiler of ‘Spiritual and Religious Wisdom’

By Anita Rufus

February 17, 2021

In 2015, Rabbi Sally Olins founded a nonprofit organization called Coffee House Rabbi. She recently published Coffee House Rabbi: Spiritual and Religious Wisdom.

Hiking With T: This Time of Year, the Trails Are Teeming With Life

By Theresa Sama

February 16, 2021

As spring approaches, you may find bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, tarantulas and snakes on your hikes—and you’ll definitely find wildflowers.

Vine Social: When Judging Wine, Place Is Even More Important Than the Grape

By Katie Finn

February 17, 2021

Chablis, Chianti, Champagne, Burgundy … these are places—and that should tell us something about the importance of location when it comes to wine.

And Now, the News

• A pipe bomb was found late yesterday afternoon near Araby Trail in Palm Springs. It was then detonated by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Explosive Ordinance Team. According to the Palm Springs Police Department: “PSPD does not know the origins of this explosive device or the intended target(s). Pipe bombs commonly known as improvised explosive devices (IED) are homemade bombs and/or destructive devices designed to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. Several questions remain unanswered and the public should always be aware of their surroundings. If you see something suspicious, say something. Report suspicious items, people and or vehicles to your local police department immediately. The police department will respond and evaluate each circumstance and determine if a threat to the public exists.” Be safe out there, folks.

• Congratulations to the hard-working journalists over at The Desert Sun on their apparently successful unionization effort. You can read more about that effort here via our Jan. 15 story. According to the press release: “Journalists of The Desert Sun on Wednesday won a resounding victory in their unionization campaign, forming a union with a vote of 13-1, well surpassing the simple majority needed. A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board oversaw the vote, which was completed by mail-in ballot and counted in a video conference due to the pandemic. The vote count came exactly two months after the newspaper’s staff went public with their effort to form a union. At the time, they released a mission statement calling for fair treatment, diversity in hiring, pay equity and protections for veteran journalists.”

• Lower-income Californians will be getting some financial help from the state. According to the Los Angeles Times, via SFGate: “Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced Wednesday that they have agreed to provide low-income Californians a $600 state stimulus payment to help them weather financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, part of a $9.6 billion economic recovery package that also includes $2.1 billion in grants for small businesses. The ‘Golden State stimulus’ payments provided under the state proposal, which will be expedited for legislative approval next week, are in addition to the $600-per-person stimulus checks already approved by Congress and would be on top of direct payments of up to $1,400 per person that have been proposed by House Democrats.”

• Wow. The Washington Post brings us this story from Colorado City, Texas, where many residents have been without power and even running water due to crazy winter weather: “Residents turned to a community Facebook group to ask whether the small town planned to open warming shelters, while others wondered if firefighters could do their job without water. But when Colorado City’s mayor chimed in, it was to deliver a less-than-comforting message: The local government had no responsibility to help out its citizens, and only the tough would survive. ‘No one owes you [or] your family anything,’ Tim Boyd wrote on Tuesday in a now-deleted Facebook post, according to KTXS and KTAB/KRBC. ‘I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!’ Boyd’s tirade, which also demanded that ‘lazy’ residents find their own ways of procuring water and electricity, immediately drew backlash. Later on Tuesday, Boyd announced his resignation and admitted that he could have ‘used better wording.'”

• Related: Some conservatives—including the Texas governor!—have claimed the energy mess that Texas finds itself in is due to renewable energy. As NBC News reports, this claim is complete fiction: “Data from Texas makes clear that renewable energy failures have played only a small part in the crisis. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which plays the role of traffic cop for Texas’ energy providers, directing energy from producers to distributors, predicted that this winter would see wind produce about 7,070 megawatts at peak load times. By the council’s own daily figures, wind power in Texas has produced between 4,415 and 8,087 megawatts at peak times since the storm began. By contrast, the state’s ‘thermal fleet’—mostly natural gas, but also including coal and nuclear power—has been down significantly more, leading to a shortfall of 30,000 megawatts, the council told the local news outlet WKYC.”

Facebook is blocking news in Australia. NPR explains: “Facebook said Wednesday that it is preventing people inside Australia from accessing news stories on its platform. In addition, Facebook users elsewhere will not be able to view or share news stories from Australian outlets. The moves are a response to proposed legislation that would force social media platforms to pay Australian news organizations for links shared on its sites. Facebook’s announcement came the same day Google said it had reached a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, to pay for its journalism. Facebook, however, chose the nuclear option rather than bargain with news publishers in Australia.”

• Blue Shield of California will soon be taking over the distribution of vaccines in the state, and I am not sure how I feel about this. The Los Angeles Times breaks it down: “Blue Shield of California will create an algorithm to determine where to allocate COVID-19 vaccines statewide with the goal of being able to administer 3 million shots a week by March 1, according to a contract made public Monday that grants the insurance giant far-reaching powers in overseeing the state’s distribution of doses. The company will attempt to drastically scale up the number of daily doses, but that goal will largely depend on the supply sent to the state. California received a little more than 1 million vaccine doses in the last week from the federal government.”

• The feds are saying that Blue Shield may have more vaccine doses to distribute. Reuters reports: “The White House said on Tuesday it is increasing the supply of coronavirus vaccines sent each week to states to 13.5 million doses, and is also doubling the amount shipped to pharmacies to 2 million doses this week. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the boost in distribution to states marked a 57% increase since President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20.”

BBC News says: “Healthy, young volunteers will be infected with coronavirus to test vaccines and treatments in the world’s first COVID-19 ‘human challenge’ study, which will take place in the UK. The study, which has received ethics approval, will start in the next few weeks and recruit 90 people aged 18-30. They will be exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment while medics monitor their health.”

Jury trials will resume in Riverside County on March 1. Read the news release announcing that here.

• Communications researchers, writing for The Conversation, bring us this unsurprising yet infuriating headline: “46,218 news transcripts show ideologically extreme politicians get more airtime.” Key quote: “Robust local news outlets once held legislators to account by covering whether they delivered for their districts. But as local news has declined, voters are turning to national media outlets for their political news. There, ideological outliers now set the tone of the debate, distorting perceptions of the important issues and warping Americans’ views of their political options.”

• Aaaand here’s yet more dire journalism news: “Hedge fund Alden Global Capital will acquire the rest of what it does not already own of Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and other local newspapers, in a deal valued at $630 million,” according to CNN. “… The acquisition has long been expected and feared internally after the hedge fund became the company’s largest shareholder in 2019 with about 32% ownership. Hundreds of Tribune employees signed a letter to protest the ownership, citing the hedge fund’s ‘well-documented history of extracting short-term profits from already-lean operations by cutting newsroom jobs and denying fair wages and benefits.'”

• A lot of the jobs claimed by the pandemic may never come back. The Washington Post explains: “Millions of jobs that have been shortchanged or wiped out entirely by the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to come back, economists warn, setting up a massive need for career changes and retraining in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered permanent shifts in how and where people work. Businesses are planning for a future where more people are working from home, traveling less for business, or replacing workers with robots. All of these modifications mean many workers will not be able to do the same job they did before the pandemic, even after much of the U.S. population gets vaccinated against the deadly virus.”

• California continues to work on a reopening plan for schools. Our partners at CalMatters report: “Though (Gov. Gavin) Newsom said he hoped to unveil a plan last week, Friday came and went without any mention of an agreement—or of the issues on which the governor and legislators disagree, though negotiations were rumored to be intense and difficult. But the state on Friday did release, for the first time amid the pandemic, maps that reveal which of California’s schools have physically reopened—and the divide is stark, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano reports. Most private schools appear to offer some form of in-person learning, while the majority of public schools remain in remote learning. Similarly, hundreds of small, rural or inland elementary schools have reopened, while many of the state’s largest urban districts are physically closed.”

• Finally … Rush Limbaugh is dead at the age of 70. NPR describes his legacy thusly: “Limbaugh’s clout in conservative circles was so great that he was wooed by three very different Republican presidents: George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, the latter a kindred spirit in many ways who awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address in February 2020. Limbaugh was an influencer before the age of social media, a hot-take machine before people stopped pausing to think about what they were saying ahead of sending those words out into the world. And he embodied a counterpunch to what many on the right contended was a liberal media establishment—even as he offended millions with his racist, sexist and homophobic routines and diatribes.”

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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...