Indy Digest: May 30, 2022
Every Memorial Day weekend, my mom buys some roses and little U.S. flags, and goes to the Mountain View Cemetery in Reno, Nev., to pay tribute to some dearly departed relatives.
Since I am in Reno this weekend, I went with her. She does this every year, so she knows the part of the cemetery where various Boegles, Nielsons, etc. are in their final resting places. All the loved ones get a rose atop their grave; those who served in the military get a flag.
The trip got me thinking about life, death, military service—and tough love.
I consider myself a patriot, in that I love and respect my country. That word has been twisted and contorted in recent years, “claimed” by right-wing, Fox News, Trumpian sorts—but nonetheless, I will still claim it.
This is where “tough love” enters into the equation: While I love my country, I realize it’s far from perfect. In fact, there are times when it’s the exact opposite of perfect.
I first learned this lesson when I was in grade school. The exact grade, I don’t remember, but I was assigned to do a report on Agent Orange, a chemical used during the Vietnam War as part of the United States’ “herbicidal warfare” efforts.
Not only was Agent Orange harmful to plants; it proved to be harmful to people as well, including many Vietnamese civilians and American soldiers upon whom the chemicals fell. One of those American soldiers was my uncle, while another was a longtime family friend; I talked to both of them for my report.
That report marked a loss of innocence for me, as it made me realize the U.S., whose flag we pledged allegiance to every day, was capable of terrible things. The U.S. military knew the chemical could harm people—yet it dropped Agent Orange on troops anyway, including my uncle and that family friend, both of whom suffered adverse health consequences as a result.
I suspect this report, indirectly, played a role in me becoming a journalist. I believe in comforting the afflicted—and when the government is doing the afflicting, that needs to be exposed, to be criticized, to be addressed. In other words, I consider good journalism to be tough love.
This Memorial Day, my thoughts go out to everyone who has served our country. On behalf of everyone at the Coachella Valley Independent, thank you for your service.
From the Independent
By Katie Finn
May 27th, 2022
Yeah, you can go just about anywhere on a shoestring budget—but the question is: Why would someone want to do that?
By Bob Grimm
May 30th, 2022
Top Gun: Maverick is an all-around good time at the movie theater.
By Matt King
May 30th, 2022
A look at some of the Coachella Valley’s top entertainment offerings in June.
By Bob Grimm
May 30th, 2022
The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are painful to watch—and that’s coming from a diehard fan who is doing his darnedest to enjoy himself.
By Jimmy Boegle
May 27th, 2022
Do the calories count if something is delightfully pillowy?
By Bob Grimm
May 30th, 2022
If these seven episodes of Season Four are any indication, the show is heading toward a solid and memorable finale.
• If you’ve ever wondered about the power the gun lobby holds in this country, this ProPublica piece will be enlightening. As the subheadline says, “After a sheriff’s deputy was murdered in a Denver suburb, Colorado state Rep. Cole Wist took action by sponsoring a red flag bill. It likely cost him his seat. ProPublica spoke to Wist about the harsh realities of gun reform.” More info: “Cole Wist was a Republican state House member in Colorado with an A grade from the NRA. Then, in 2018, he supported a red flag law, sponsoring a bill to allow guns to be taken away —temporarily—from people who pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. Wist lost his seat in the legislature that year in the face of an intense backlash from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a gun rights organization in Colorado that boasts it accepts ‘no compromise’ as it battles ‘the gun grabbers.’ The group campaigned against him, distributing flyers and referring to him on social media as ‘Cole the Mole.’ Wist, an attorney, doesn’t regret trying to enact what he considered a measured response to an epidemic of gun violence in the United States. He acted after a mentally ill man in his Denver suburb killed a sheriff’s deputy. The bill didn’t pass until after Wist was out of office and his successor, Tom Sullivan, shepherded it through. Sullivan is a Democrat who lost his son in the Aurora theater massacre.”
• Related: A law is making its way through the California Legislature that would allow gun manufacturers to be sued for marketing to children. Our partners at CalMatters report: “A bill that passed out of the Assembly on Thursday night would make the marketing of firearms to children and those not legally allowed to possess them a civil liability. AB 1594 would allow lawsuits against gun manufacturers based on their marketing, one of the few exemptions to a federal ban on such lawsuits. The bill is now in the hands of the Senate. Brought by San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting, the bill is an attempt to ensure that gun manufacturers can’t object in state court to lawsuits that target their marketing—an argument Smith & Wesson made in a San Diego court last year. The proposal is similar to a bill passed last year in New York—one that survived a legal challenge from guns rights advocates in federal court on Wednesday.”
• Oh, great, now strawberries are dangerous. NPR explains: “The FDA and other agencies are investigating a hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. and Canada potentially linked to organic fresh strawberries. The agency says the strawberries were sold under the FreshKampo and HEB brands and purchased between March 5 and April 25. The FDA is investigating 17 cases—15 in California and one apiece in Minnesota and North Dakota. Canada’s public health agency has identified 10 cases across two provinces: Alberta and Saskatchewan. HEB and FreshKampo strawberries were sold at a number of retailers, including Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Safeway, Aldi, Walmart and HEB, according to the FDA. ‘If you are unsure of what brand you purchased, when you purchased your strawberries, or where you purchased them from prior to freezing them, the strawberries should be thrown away,’ the FDA said.”
• A historian, writing for The Conversation, looks at the “forgotten” history of Memorial Day. Key quote: “In the years following the bitter Civil War, a former Union general took a holiday originated by former Confederates and helped spread it across the entire country. The holiday was Memorial Day, an annual commemoration was born in the former Confederate States in 1866 and adopted by the United States in 1868. It is a holiday in which the nation honors its military dead. Gen. John A. Logan, who headed the largest Union veterans’ fraternity at that time, the Grand Army of the Republic, is usually credited as being the originator of the holiday. Yet when General Logan established the holiday, he acknowledged its genesis among the Union’s former enemies, saying, ‘It was not too late for the Union men of the nation to follow the example of the people of the South.’“
• Resident astronomer Robert Victor offers this heads-up if you’re reading this on the day it was sent: “There’s a possible outburst of meteors this evening, Monday, May 30. The most likely time for peak activity is between 9:45 p.m. and 10:17 p.m. PDT. Since the meteors might be faint, the darker the sky is at your observing site, the better, and the more meteors you would see, if the shower in fact materializes. The diffuse radiant of this meteor shower (the direction from which the particles approach Earth) would then be centered about 6 degrees south-southeast of overhead for observers in the Coachella Valley, and within 10 degrees above the brightest star then visible, Arcturus. Meteors from the stream might be seen anywhere in the sky, but if their paths are extended backward, they would all originate from the radiant. If you look about 30 degrees from the horizon in any direction, you’d be looking through about twice as much of Earth’s atmosphere and therefore likely to see more meteors than if you kept your attention on the radiant almost directly overhead. Since the radiant is nearly overhead, the meteors you see in most areas of the sky will appear to be moving in almost vertical paths, nearly straight downward. Keep in mind that it’s possible that the stream of particles will miss the Earth completely, and then nothing would be seen. But just in case it happens, you will not want to miss it!” Get more info from the National Meteor Organization here.
• And finally … Jessica Taylor—a local singer profiled by Kay Kudukis in the Independent last year—is now battling cancer, and some friends are holding a fundraiser for her at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, May 31. Some details: “With the help of Michael and Dave at PS Underground, we’re throwing a dinner party and pro jam! There will be a humble meal prepared with love, a cash bar and lots of great music and friendship. … Donate whatever you can and you will have a seat at the table. We are asking for a suggested donation of $25, but if you can afford MORE, we’d love that; and if you need to spend a little less, we’ll all take care of each other! PS Underground is donating the food, and the musicians and singers are donating their talents, so 100% of your donation goes directly to Jessica.” Get tickets and donate here.
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