Indy Digest: June 10, 2021
Psssst! Hey! You! Yeah, you! Wanna write for an award-winning publication? If so, the Independent wants YOU!
OK … now that I have that hokey intro out of the way, please allow me to go off on a slight tangent before getting back to the main point.
When we launched the Independent more than eight years ago, I anticipated myriad challenges. After all, we were starting a brand-new publication from scratch—without cutting ethical corners like so many other publications do these days. However, I did NOT anticipate the constant struggle we would have finding willing and capable freelance writers.
I’ve worked in journalism in five markets now; in the first four, finding writers was never all that difficult. It turns out those four markets all have something in common: There are good four-year colleges in each of those cities.
The phrase “game-changer” is thrown around way too much these days. But it is a gross understatement to say it would be a game-changer for the Coachella Valley to become home to its own full university—something that is at least a remote possibility. I could share all sorts of facts and studies about the power of the “creative class,” but I’ll just wildly oversimplify things and say this: Colleges bring in a lot of smart people—and, more importantly, they allow a community to hold on to its OWN smart people.
Smart people like, say, writers.
Don’t me wrong; the College of the Desert and the satellite campuses of CSU San Bernardino and UC Riverside are great boons for the community. But a full, realized CSU Palm Desert would be … well, a game-changer.
And now back to the main point: Despite the struggle we’ve had finding good writers, we have managed to find some amazing ones. However, we’re always looking for others—especially now that one of our best, Anita Rufus, is pausing her “Know Your Neighbors” column to work on other projects. You can, and should, read her final (at least for now) column, which leads off the “From the Independent” section below.
If you would like to write about pets, or do events previews, or propose an idea for a well-reported regular column, or even tackle hard news, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not sure but have questions, please send them my way. Yes, we pay our writers, unlike some publications out there. Most of our writers will tell you I am easy to work with—and that they’re proud to be part of an award-winning, locally focused publication that actually does real, honest journalism.
One last thing: Thanks, Anita, for all the hard work you’ve done for the Independent over the last eight-plus years. Your words in the Independent will be missed by many.
From the Independent
Know Your Neighbors: After Eight Years of Meeting Fellow Coachella Valley Residents, It’s Time for Me to Move On
By Anita Rufus
June 9, 2021
After writing more than 210 columns over eight-plus years—and winning two national awards along the way—Anita Rufus has decided to take a break.
No B.S. Art Here: Joshua Tree’s La Matadora Gallery Marks Four Years of Celebrating Post-Modern Works
By Cat Makino
June 8, 2021
Joshua Tree’s La Matadora Gallery features a wide variety of post-modern art, and is turning four years old this summer.
All About Good Vibes: Three Well-Known Valley Musicians Join Forces to Create The Ill Eagles, a New Reggae Band
By Matt King
June 10, 2021
Bradley Burton (Captain Ghost), Spade Haivyn (Empty Seat) and Ryan Alexander Diaz (Crucial Culture, Unity Frenzy) have formed new reggae band The Ill Eagles.
June 10, 2021
Topics tackled by our cartoonists this week include insurrection, the filibuster, office-bathroom small talk—and much more!
Hurt While Hiking: If You’re Injured While on the Trails, It’s Best to Act Quickly—and Get Help From an Experienced Attorney (Sponsored Content)
By J. Allen
June 8, 2021
What happens if you trip and fall while hiking? If an injury results in steep medical bills, can you get compensated? The answer? That depends on the trail, for starters.
• Today has been one hell of a day for the Palm Springs International Airport. First came this news from the city of Palm Springs: “Southwest Airlines announced today new daily year-round service to Sacramento, seasonal daily service to Dallas Love Field and Chicago Midway—and Saturday seasonal service to Portland, Oregon!” Then a few minutes later came this news from Alaska Airlines: “On Nov. 19, we’ll say howdy to another new route connecting Palm Springs and Austin. It’s the only nonstop flight between the heart of the Coachella Valley and the Texas capital with flights five times a week.” When it comes to adding routes, PSP is one of the hottest smaller airports in the country these days.
• Splash House—the popular melding of EDM festival and pool party that happens twice each summer (when we’re not in the midst of a raging pandemic, that is)—is slated to return over two consecutive weekends this August. Passes will start at $159; with after-hours-only passes starting at $60. From the perky and festive news release: “This August, Splash House returns to Palm Springs to celebrate its eighth summer and the joyful reunion of its fun-loving community. Fans may now rejoice as the event makes up for lost time with a double weekender August 13-15 and 20-22. … Set across three resort hotels—Renaissance, Margaritaville, and Saguaro—the event guides attendees between bespoke pool areas and iconic stage-facing balconies. It’s the perfect blend of day-to-night comforts and day into night dancing, with After Hours programming continuing at Palm Springs Air Museum aside planes under the desert stars.” Visit splashhouse.com to learn more.
• Since this is the last Thursday Indy Digest before the alleged full reopening of California next Tuesday, I planned on, for one (hopefully) final time, presenting to y’all the county’s weekly District 4 COVID-19 report, and the city of Palm Springs’ COVID-19 wastewater report. However, they were last posted on June 1 and May 17, respectively … so consider those (hopefully) retired. On a county-wide level, we will never actually reach the yellow tier: While our weekly numbers as of Tuesday, June 8, met the yellow criteria—Riverside County’s adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 people was 1.6, and the county’s positivity rate was 1.2—counties need to qualify for two straight weeks to advance from orange to yellow. And the tiers go away next Tuesday. So even in the (hopefully) waning days of COVID, the darned virus is getting one last little laugh at Riverside County’s expense …
• As for June 15 “full reopening” … what exactly will and will not happen on that day? Our partners at CalMatters have put together this helpful list of answers to questions you may have. Key quote: “The average Californian can expect things to look fairly back-to-normal in most of the ways that matter. Moving ‘beyond the blueprint,’ to use the state’s branding, and instead using federal health guidance for public places means that most businesses can dispense with social distancing requirements, capacity limits and forced closures. But there’s a difference between ‘can’ and ‘must.’”
• There will be many festivities on Tuesday, June 15. In addition to Palm Springs’ mini VillageFest, there will be a big party on El Paseo in Palm Desert. From the news release: “El Paseo Shopping District is holding a ‘Time to Thrive’ celebration of California’s full reopening, which lifts capacity restrictions for most businesses and activities, applying to the stores and restaurants on El Paseo. The public is invited to join this historical event on Tuesday, June 15, from 3 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Festive balloons will mark the participating restaurants and stores offering 6/15 themed specials with various retail and dining discounts, and/or having individual store celebrations. To conclude the 6/15 event merchants and visitors can toast along the street to the reopening at 6:15 p.m., and there will be a grand prize awarded of $615 for an El Paseo Shopping Spree.”
• And five days later, on June 20, Palm Springs will celebrate the public unveiling of “Forever Marilyn.” From today’s news release: “‘Forever Marilyn’ has, at last, made her way back to Palm Springs, with installation slated to begin today at her new home – the corner of Museum Way and Belardo Road. … A public unveiling of the artwork is scheduled for Sunday, June 20, at 7 p.m. at the corner of Museum Way and Belardo Road.”
• Because some people are just terrible, the state has put out an alert regarding scams related to the California vaccine lottery. From the California Department of Public Health alert: “The first cash prize drawing of $116.5 million Vax for the Win incentives program kicked off on June 4 to motivate residents to get vaccinated before the state’s reopening on June 15. Following the drawing, members of the public notified the state of scammers impersonating state officials through calls, email, text, and direct messages on social media. … Here are the facts about the state’s program: There is no process for entry in the Vax for the Win program. All vaccinated individuals are automatically entered. Winners can decline the prize and/or remain anonymous. The privacy of winners is protected. … Winners will not be asked to pay any fees associated with verifying eligibility for the cash prize. Winners will not be asked to provide their bank information.” Sigh.
• So the FDA just OK’d a new drug to treat some people with Alzheimer’s disease … even though the drug may not work. Huh? A pharmaceutical expert, writing for The Conversation, explains what’s going on—and I found her explanation to be very helpful. A taste: “When considering accelerated approval, the agency examines a drug’s efficacy using what’s called a ‘surrogate endpoint.’ While most drug trials measure success based on clinical endpoints that determine whether a drug helps people feel better or live longer, like reducing heart attacks or strokes, surrogate endpoints measure biomarkers that suggest potential clinical benefit. … Though the effect of aducanumab, the Alzheimer’s drug developed by biotechnology company Biogen, on hard clinical endpoints are lackluster, it has been shown to reduce the formation of amyloid beta plaques in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Amyloid beta denotes proteins that clump together to form plaques commonly seen in patients with Alzheimer’s.”
• ProPublica on Tuesday dropped a bombshell investigative piece with this headline: “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.” The authors write: “In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. … ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits. Taken together, it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can—perfectly legally—pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year.”
• If you commonly go to Starbucks, 1) I encourage you to consider frequenting a locally owned coffee shop instead, and 2) you may have noticed shortages of certain items. The New York Times explains what’s happening: “Although most people are familiar with the problems in the global supply chain to some extent, some Starbucks customers are still shocked—even incensed—by their inability to get their coffee exactly how they want it. Others laugh it off. … There were earlier hints that supply issues could be bubbling up for Starbucks. In a late April call with Wall Street analysts, the chief executive of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, voiced some concerns about companies in its supply chain that were struggling to hire the staff they needed.”
• And finally … the planet officially has a new ocean, at least according to National Geographic. Wait, what? We’ll let SFGate explain: “A fifth ocean has been designated by the magazine: the icy waters surrounding Antarctica below the Earth’s southern 60th parallel (are) officially being named the Southern Ocean. The move is significant beyond adding one more name for grade school students to remember. The Southern Ocean is fenced from the the northern oceans by a fast current that circles the Earth from west to east around Antarctica in a band centered around a latitude of 60 degrees south. The waters south of that Antarctic Circumpolar Current are colder and ecologically distinct, the magazine says, making a home for thousands of species that can live nowhere else on Earth.”
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