Indy Digest: June 2, 2022
The Independent did quite well in the California Journalism Awards for the year 2021..
First and foremost: I am proud to announce that the Independent finished second in our two general excellence categories: In the category for weeklies with a print circulation of 11,001-25,000, we finished second to the San Francisco Business Times; in the digital contest, for papers with 100,000 and fewer monthly page views, we finished second to Capitol and Main.
(Yes, we compete in the “weekly” category, even though the Independent is a print monthly. This California News Publishers Association contest has “daily” and “weekly” categories. That’s it. Go figure.)
In addition to these two almost-top honors, we earned nine other awards:
• First place for Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the weeklies 11,001-25,000 category, to Kevin Fitzgerald, for “Everyone (With COVID) Poops.”
• First place for Enterprise News Story or Series in the weeklies 11,001-25,000 category, to Kevin Fitzgerald, for “Welcome to Lithium Valley.”
• Third place for Front Page Layout and Design in the weeklies 11,001 and up category, to Dennis Wodzisz and yours truly.
• Third place for Public Service Journalism in the digital 100,000-and-fewer category for … the Indy Digest! Yes, the very newsletter you’re reading right now.
• Fourth place for Arts and Entertainment Coverage, among all “weeklies” in the state.
• Fourth place for Columns in the weeklies 11,001-25,000 category, to Anita Rufus, for her “Know Your Neighbors” column.
• Fourth place for Writing in the weeklies 11,001-25,000 category, to Kevin Carlow, for “On Cocktails: Many Bartenders Loathe the Espresso Martini … Yet They Take Great Pride in the Ones They Make.”
• Fifth place for Columns in the weeklies 11,001-25,000 category, to Kay Kudukis, for her “The XX Factor” column.
• Fifth place for Writing in the weeklies 11,001-25,000 category, to Katie Finn, for “Vine Social: A Century Ago, We Had Wars, Pandemics and Natural Disasters-but We Didn’t Have Legal Wine.”
Congrats to all of the Independent staffers and contributors. I could not be more proud of this amazing group.
From the Independent
Havoc Once More: After Being Re-Discovered by Crate-Diggers, W.I.T.C.H. Has Made the Most Unlikely of Comebacks
By Matt King
June 1st, 2022
In the early 2010s, record-crate diggers “re-discovered” W.I.T.C.H.; when they found almost no information about the group, they set out to find the band. What followed is documented in We Intend to Cause Havoc (2019).
June Astronomy: As Summer Begins, the Morning Offers a Rare View of All the Bright Planets—in Proper Order
By Robert Victor
May 31st, 2022
Cooler mornings and a rare lineup of four to all five bright planets in “correct” order across the sky before dawn are rich rewards for June early risers.
June 2nd, 2022
Topics addressed on this week’s comics page include liquor store signs, teachers’ unions, the filibuster, cardamom sauce—and more!
• The latest Palm Springs wastewater testing results for SARS-CoV-2 are, frankly, depressing: After two weeks of declines, the levels went up in samples taken on May 23 and 24. Specifically: “The average of 544,167 copies (per liter) from the previous week’s average has gone up to an average of 789,479 copies/L.” Not good! May 2022’s levels overall have made it the fifth-highest month in terms of SARS-CoV-2 levels since Palm Springs started doing wastewater testing in August 2020, below only December 2020 and January 2021, and December 2021 and January 2022. Be safe, and mask up. The pandemic continues.
• The recent case spike has Los Angeles County considering a return of the mask mandate. The Los Angeles Times reports: “‘Our weekly case rate and the rate of increase in hospital admissions are of concern,’ L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. ‘If we continue on the current trajectory … we’re likely to move into the CDC high (COVID-19) community level within a few weeks towards the end of June, indicating increased stress on the healthcare system.’ The concerns come as Alameda County, the Bay Area’s second-most populous county and home to Oakland, ordered a new mask mandate in most indoor spaces effective Friday, citing worsening coronavirus cases and rising rates of hospitalizations. Alameda County was the first county in California to issue a universal indoor mask order following the end of the winter Omicron surge. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking when a county enters the high COVID-19 community level, the worst in a three-tier system.”
• An epidemiologist, writing for The Conversation, explains the process under way right now that will determine the future COVID-19 vaccines: “Yes, the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants in the upcoming fall and winter seasons may look different from the omicron subvariants currently circulating. But an updated booster that more closely resembles today’s omicron subvariants, coupled with the immunity people already have from the first vaccines, will likely offer better protection going forward. It might require less frequent boosting—at least as long as omicron sublineages continue to dominate. The Food and Drug Administration is set to meet in the coming weeks to decide what the fall boosters should be in time for manufacturers to produce the shots. Vaccine makers like Moderna are currently testing their booster candidates in people and evaluating the immune response against newly emerging variants. The test results will likely decide what will be used in anticipation of a fall or winter surge. Another possibility is to pivot the vaccine booster strategy to include universal coronavirus vaccine approaches that already look promising in animal studies.”
• A member of the state assembly made an unsuccessful run at toppling current speaker Anthony Rendon—and it did not go well. Our partners at CalMatters report: “The announcement came not with a bang but a whimper: At 8 p.m. (Tuesday), Rendon and his would-be successor, Salinas Democrat Robert Rivas, issued a joint statement. From Rivas: ‘I agree with the majority of our current caucus that Speaker Rendon should remain as Speaker for at least the rest of this legislative session.’ Translation: There’s always 2023. From Rendon: ‘I applaud Robert Rivas for securing the support of a majority of the current Democratic Caucus to succeed me as Speaker of the Assembly.’ Translation: Nice try. Maybe next time. If you need a quick refresher: On Friday, Rivas announced that 34 of the Assembly’s 58 Democrats supported him to become the next speaker. Rendon refused to acknowledge the declaration publicly. All manner of machinations and mishigas ensued. It may not be entirely bad news for Rivas. A majority of the current caucus really does want him (for now) to become the next speaker (at some point). The question is whether that will still hold true once other ambitious members start jockeying again—and after 13 current Assembly Democrats leave after this session.” A tip o’ the hat to reporter Ben Christopher for working the word “mishigas” into the piece!
• From the “Creepy as All Heck” file comes this piece, from The Associated Press, headlined “Nightclub needle attacks puzzle European authorities”: “Across France, more than 300 people have reported being pricked out of the blue with needles at nightclubs or concerts in recent months. Doctors and multiple prosecutors are on the case, but no one knows who’s doing it or why, and whether the victims have been injected with drugs—or indeed any substance at all. Club owners and police are trying to raise awareness, and a rapper even interrupted his recent show to warn concert-goers about the risk of surprise needle attacks. It’s not just France: Britain’s government is studying a spate of ‘needle spiking’ there, and police in Belgium and the Netherlands are investigating scattered cases too.” Yeesh!
• Meanwhile, in monkeypox news, because why not, the Los Angeles Times reports: “Los Angeles County on Thursday announced its first suspected case of monkeypox while stressing the health risks of the disease are still low. ‘The patient is an adult resident who recently traveled and had a known close contact to a case. Although the patient is symptomatic, they are doing well and not hospitalized. They are isolated from others,’ county health officials said in a statement. ‘Public Health is continuing to investigate and conduct contact tracing and post-exposure prevention for close contacts.’”
• And from the “Duh!” file comes this monkeypox-related story from The Washington Post: “People with monkeypox symptoms should abstain from sex, British health authorities are recommending as the country reports 179 confirmed cases of the disease amid a rare global outbreak. The guidance advises those who have been infected with monkeypox to use condoms for at least eight weeks after the infection abates as a ‘precautionary’ measure, while public health experts learn more about how the virus spreads between people. People who have monkeypox or think they could have it ‘should avoid contact with other people until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried off,’ the guidance says.” Ya know, call me old fashioned, but I have always believed in abstaining from sex until lesions have healed …
• And finally … the Mexican pizza is being removed from Taco Bells menu until the fall because … it’s been selling too well?! What? That’s the official word, as explained by USA Today: “Taco Bell cited one restaurant in California which sold more than 1,000 Mexican pizzas in one day, and an order from a customer which included 180 Mexican pizzas. ‘While we’re currently selling out, for now, we’re working diligently with our restaurants and suppliers to get more back in the hands and stomachs of our biggest fans by this fall,’ said the fast food chain in a letter to fans Tuesday.” Cancel Christmas, dang it!
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