Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Dec. 29, 2022

Well, my friends, we’ve (almost) made it through 2022.

The year started off quite terribly, with the omicron spike leading to the cancellation of all sorts of New Year’s events, as well as the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

As the year went on, COVID-19 was always around—but we learned to live with it, for the most part. After January, all of the big festivals returned, including Coachella and Stagecoach.

There was an election that went, well, strangely. People expected a “red wave” that never came—except for in Florida and the western Coachella Valley, which is now represented by a GOP congressman, a GOP assemblyman … and no state senator at all.

So, what will 2023 bring? If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that nobody has any idea what’s around the corner.

Anyway, here are three topics I’m going to be following with extra interest as 2023 arrives:

• The economy. Is a recession coming? Is one sort of already here? Or has the economy gotten so strange in recent years due to (gestures wildly at everything) that our traditional definitions of things like “recession” no longer fit? I know of a lot of local businesses who have seen a dip in customers in recent months, even though the financial folks tell us the economy is still growing. Hmm.

• Right-wing extremism. Who in the hell would have thought that drag queens would be such a focus for bigots with guns (and legislation), say, five years ago? Yet here we are.

• Right-wing extremism II—U.S. Supreme Court edition: The right to an abortion, despite 40 years of precedence, is gone. What’s next to get tossed out? A nationwide right to same-sex marriage? A nationwide right to contraception? Are we sure it’s almost 2023, and not 1963?

• Homelessness: It’s a huge problem, in the Coachella Valley and pretty much everywhere else. Will 2023 be the year in which we finally implement real solutions to the issue? One can hope.

Of course, the Independent will be here to cover all these issues, and more. Happy New Year, everyone—and thanks for reading!

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Oasis No More: Residents of Lake Tamarisk and Desert Center Worry About the Proliferation of Utility-Scale Solar Installations

By Kevin Fitzgerald

December 29th, 2022

Within sight of Lake Tamarisk alone, at least five solar installations have either been completed or are under construction; all are at least partially operational. Several others are slated for construction, entering the BLM planning phase required before the building begins.

Return of Movie Magic: The Palm Springs International Film Festival Is Back With a Full Slate of Screenings, Stars and Safety

By Matt King

December 27th, 2022

On Thursday, Jan. 5, the Palm Springs International Film Festival will return with the star-studded Film Awards, followed by the first day of screenings on Friday, Jan. 6. Films will run until Sunday, Jan. 15, at various venues.

Make a Feline Friend: After Numerous Delays, the Frisky Business Cat Café Is Finally Open in Palm Springs

By Cat Makino

December 28th, 2022

The Frisky Business Palm Springs Cat Cafe brings together cats from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter with people who can offer them loving forever homes.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Dec. 29, 2022!

By Staff

December 29th, 2022

Topics touched upon this week include observable reality, Jeff Bezos, capitalism, sea anemones—and much more!

More News

After nearly a week during which most flights in and out of Palm Springs were cancelled, Southwest Airlines said today that operations will be close to normal tomorrow (Friday). NPR says: “‘We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made to realign crew, their schedules, and our fleet,’ the company said in a statement. ‘With another holiday weekend full of important connections for our valued Customers and Employees, we are eager to return to a state of normalcy.’ The severe weather has exacerbated staff shortages caused by the ‘tripledemic’ that’s left employees sickened with COVID-19, the flu and RSV. But it was a breakdown of the airline’s old computer system used for crew scheduling that has turned otherwise challenging weather-fueled disruptions into what experts have called an ‘unprecedented’ airline meltdown.”

• Related: If you’re looking for a Buzzfeed listacle featuring photos from all the travel chaos (mostly Southwest Airlines-related) and lots of luggage, here ya go!

• After a couple weeks of declines, COVID-19 levels in Palm Springs jumped last week, according to the latest round of wastewater testing. From the report: “The average number of copies/L recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant increased. The average of 602,726 copies (per liter) from the previous week went up to an average of 1,099,082 copies/L for December 19 and 20.”

The COVID-19 situation in China is simply awful right now—and in response, the U.S. and Italy are requiring incoming travelers to take a COVID-19 test. The Washington Post reports: “After two recent flights from China brought almost 100 coronavirus-infected passengers to Milan, Italy on Wednesday announced that all arrivals from China would be tested, with positive cases to isolate. The United States the same day mandated pre-departure testing for such passengers, days after Beijing moved to reopen its borders amid a spike in cases. Fifty percent of travelers on a Dec. 26 flight to Milan tested positive for the virus, with more than a third of passengers on a second flight that day also infected, according to RAI, the Italian public broadcaster. … U.S. officials (are) increasingly worried about Beijing’s lack of transparency about the state of the pandemic there. Earlier this month, China stopped releasing a daily count of asymptomatic cases, and it recently offered COVID-19 death tolls that are regarded as highly improbable.”

• Title 42, a Trump/pandemic-era immigration policy, has been kept in place for the time being by the U.S. Supreme Court. But what, exactly, is Title 42? A sociology professor, writing for The Conversation on Dec. 15 (before the Supreme Court stepped in to extend Title 42), explains: “As written, Title 42 of the U.S. Code allows for the ‘suspension of entries and imports from designated places to prevent spread of communicable diseases.’ In practice, the law enabled U.S. law enforcement officers to immediately deny entry to asylum-seekers and other migrants. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, around 51% of the people encountered at the border were immediately expelled or put into deportation proceedings as a result of Title 42. … In October 2022 alone there were more than 204,000 encounters along the U.S. southern border and over 78,400 expulsions under Title 42, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.”

• Related: Our partners at Calmatters report that the state would have taken a financial hit had Title 42 ended: “San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson, a former Republican state senator, was among a group of political leaders who recently complained that the state and federal governments have not provided the funds local leaders have requested to handle the expected influx of asylum seekers and other migrants. ‘We’re not even talking about whether these are good policies or not,’ he said. ‘But whatever the policy is, we become the targets of it. We’re willing to step up, but they have to step up, too, by giving us the resources we need to deal with it.’ He joined several local Republican and Democratic leaders in San Diego in urging in letters and news conferences that the state and the feds should provide more support ahead of the expected end of Title 42. Local officials pointed to needing more funding for schools, hospitals, and police services, among other resources, if Title 42 eventually lifts.”

You may have noticed that egg prices have been increasing. CNBC explains why: “Average egg prices jumped 49.1% in November compared with those a year earlier — the largest annual percentage increase among all grocery items in that period, according to the consumer price index, a barometer of inflation. … The increase is even more acute when measured by the cost of a dozen large, Grade A eggs, which more than doubled to $3.59 in November from $1.72 the year-earlier month, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Those price dynamics are primarily due to the deadliest outbreak of bird flu in U.S. history, which has killed millions of egg-laying hens this year, according to economists.”

• And now for something completely bonkers: Have you heard the one about climate-activist Greta Thunberg, right-wing “influencer” Andrew Tate, the pizza box and the arrest? If not … here’s a New York Post piece that explains things. Just a taste: “Tate’s arrest could have been set off by his Twitter feud with environmental activist Greta Thunberg the day prior. The controversial influencer tagged her in a post showing off his 33 cars and asked for her address so he would continue to brag that they contribute greatly to pollution. ‘Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at smalld–,’ Thunberg hit back. Tate initially responded with a short ‘How dare you?!’ before revising his response to a two-minute video of him making fun of the use of pronouns and calling her a ‘slave of the matrix.’ Tate asks a person off-screen to hand him two boxes of pizza but reminds them not to recycle it in an effort to further taunt Thunberg. The boxes had Romanian type on the sides, potentially letting officials know he was in the country.”

• And finally … we’d like to send our best wishes to Nate Otto, the founder of Hot Purple Energy. He’s currently at Desert Regional Medical Center, in stable condition, after suffering life-threatening injuries in a dirt-bike crash on Dec. 26. He was reported missing before being found on Dec. 27. Please get better soon.

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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...