Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Nov. 25, 2022

I’ve had some fun in this space with the current state of Twitter. It has has been nothing but a debacle since Elon Musk took over several weeks ago.

Today, however, I am going to take a serious tone—because 1) some of the recent developments are deadly serious; and 2) Twitter’s degradation will have some serious, real effects on our world.

As for those serious recent developments … we’ll let The Washington Post do the talking:

Elon Musk plans to reinstate nearly all previously banned Twitter accounts — to the alarm of activists and online trust and safety experts.

After posting a Twitter poll asking, “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” in which 72.4 percent of the respondents voted yes, Musk declared, “Amnesty begins next week.”

The Twitter CEO did not respond Thursday to a request for comment from The Washington Post. The poll garnered more than 3 million votes.

The mass return of users who had been banned for such offenses as violent threats, harassment and misinformation will have a significant impact on the platform, experts said. And many questioned how such a resurrection would be handled, given that it’s unclear what Musk means by “egregious spam” and the difficulty of separating out users who have “broken the law,” which vary widely by jurisdiction and country. …

“Apple and Google need to seriously start exploring booting Twitter off the app store,” said Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic. “What Musk is doing is existentially dangerous for various marginalized communities. It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause. People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be.”

That’s alarming. Just as alarming have been some of the statements Musk has been making. Just one example:

“The woke mind virus.” Yeesh.

If Twitter were to die, or become unusable, or become something best avoided, there will be real-world consequences. For one thing, it’s become a vital communication tool during natural and other disasters.

For another: Journalists will lose an invaluable reporting and networking tool. More than a few stories have been written about this. Ashton Pittman, of the Mississippi Free Press, explained how important the platform has been to him and other journalists:

When I reported on Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s history at a segregation academy in November 2018, it sparked a national flurry of follow ups and discussions about the often hush-hush history of segregation academies throughout the country. My reporting on that election spread like wildfire on Twitter and suddenly I was getting invitations to appear on major cable news shows like MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. The segregation academy story was featured in a monologue on The Rachel Maddow Show.

In the years since, Twitter has helped connect me and my colleagues with thousands of people I would’ve never met otherwise. After Donna Ladd and Kimberly Griffin co-founded the Mississippi Free Press as a nonprofit newsroom in 2020, we hit the ground running with huge stories on COVID-19 and Twitter became one of the biggest sources of views and donations for our fledgling publication.

One of the most gratifying things we have repeatedly heard from followers (including ones who have never even stepped foot in Mississippi) is that they have grown to care about what happens in Mississippi because of our journalism.

The Bird App has done a lot to make news more accessible to the public—and to help elevate independent local and state journalism to the national level. I can’t overstate how momentous that has been.

But aside from what Twitter has done for journalism, I’ve also just met wonderful, generous people—like a wonderful follower in Jackson who kindly gave me an old filing cabinet of hers after I outgrew my old one. As infuriating as Twitter has been at times, I’ve met so many amazing people and learned so much from those across all walks of life. And it really has helped grow independent, democracy-building journalism.

With Elon Musk seemingly on the verge of destroying Twitter, I don’t know what happens next or if the Bird App will survive. But I do know that I don’t want to lose touch with the incredible people I’ve gotten to know there.

The future of Twitter is not looking good—and that’s a bad thing for the U.S. in many ways.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Tamales, Tunes and More: The Indio International Tamale Festival Continues to Grow With a New Location and Two Extra Nights of Events

By Matt King

November 25th, 2022

The 30th Indio International Tamale Festival, newly hosted at Miles Avenue Park, has expanded to four days of programming, featuring a night market on Thursday and Friday dubbed Mercadito de Noche.

The Girl Club: Meet Solange Signoret, a High School Senior Who May Very Well Change the World

By Kay Kudukis

November 23rd, 2022

Solange Signoret, a high school senior, could one day become a Broadway star. Or president of the United States. Maybe both?

The Indy Endorsement: The Spaghetti Carbonara at Sammy’s Place

By Jimmy Boegle

November 25th, 2022

The spaghetti carbonara at Sammy’s Place is creamy and decadent, with bursts of freshness, sweetness and saltiness.

The Lucky 13: Carrick O’Dowd, Vocalist/Guitarist of Garb

By Matt King

November 25th, 2022

Carrick O’Dowd is the vocalist/guitarist of Garb, whose album “stiff as a feather” came out in September. Since then, the group has captured the hearts of locals and out-of-towners alike.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Nov. 24, 2022!

By Staff

November 24th, 2022

Topics found within this comics page include shark tanks, backyard chickens, sassy drag queens, couch transportation—and much more!

More News

• From a news release: “A candlelight vigil honoring the victims of the Club Q nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be held on Sunday, Nov. 27, in the Arenas District of Palm Springs. The event is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. and will feature a program of speakers including Mayor Lisa Middleton, Councilmember-elect Ron deHarte, and members of the local drag and LGBTQ community. A section of Arenas Road will be closed to traffic to accommodate the vigil. On November 19, at least five people were killed and 18 others injured in a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Recently, the city of Palm Springs designated the two-block stretch of gay nightlife venues as the heart of the LGBTQ community in the desert.”

Shortages of medicines used to treat respiratory and other illnesses are making this season of sickness even more daunting. CNN reports: “On social media, families say they’ve hunted for hours for oseltamivir, the generic version of Tamiflu, and the first-line antibiotics amoxicillin and Augmentin. Inhalers of the drug albuterol, which is used to open airways in the lungs, are also in short supply, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which maintains a list of drug shortages. Anyone can report a shortage for the society’s list, and pharmacists from the University of Utah verify the information with drug manufacturers. ‘In my 25 years of being a pediatrician, I’ve never seen anything like this,’ said pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Stacene Maroushek of Hennepin Healthcare in Minnesota. ‘I have seen families who just aren’t getting a break. They have one viral illness after another. And now there’s the secondary effect of ear infections and pneumonia that are prompting amoxicillin shortages.’ The cause of these shortages doesn’t seem to be a manufacturing problem, says Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. ‘It’s just increased demand ahead of schedule and higher than usual,’ he said.”

Related: Here are the latest graphs of wastewater virus levels, from Indio’s Valley Sanitary District, as of the report posted on Tuesday. The COVID-19 (not shown here) and RSV graphs show high, but mostly steady numbers. Then there’s the influenza graph:

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the toll the ongoing drought is taking on California farmland: “California has just gone through the state’s driest three-year period on record, and this year the drought has pushed the fallowing of farmland to a new high. In a new report on the drought’s economic effects, researchers estimated that California’s irrigated farmland shrank by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, in 2022 compared with 2019—the year prior to the drought. That was up from an estimated 563,000 acres of fallowed farmland last year. Nearly all the farmland that was left unplanted and dry falls within the Central Valley, and a large portion of it in the valley’s northern half. The state’s main rice-growing regions in Sutter, Colusa and Glenn counties were hit particularly hard, the report said, with about 267,000 acres fallowed this year.

Two marketing experts, writing for The Conversation, surveyed consumers—and people are apparently already acting like we’re in a recession: “We conducted our survey in mid-November, about a week before Black Friday, the historical start of the holiday shopping season. … We asked over 500 consumers a series of questions about their spending plans, concerns and priorities during this year’s holiday season. Participants were split evenly between men and women, and almost two-thirds had a household income of $70,000 or less. Overall, the most alarming conclusion from our research is that consumers are reporting consumption behaviors typically exhibited during an economic crisis, similar to those observed in 2009 by consultancy McKinsey during the Great Recession. One data point stands out: An overwhelming 62% said they were concerned about their job security, while almost 35% indicated they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried about their financial situation.”

And finally … we apologize profusely for all the puns in this Associated Press piece about a stowaway kitty: “Don’t accuse the TSA of catnapping on the job. When an alert agent at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport noticed tufts of orange fur poking out of a slightly unzipped suitcase, it gave him pause. As the bag went through the X-ray unit Nov. 16, the Transportation Security Administration agent was in for a surprise: Inside were four paws and a tail belonging to a feline stowaway. ‘On the bright side, the cat’s out of the bag,’ a TSA spokesperson tweeted Tuesday. The passenger was paged to return to the ticket counter after the cat was found, the spokesperson, Lisa Farbstein, said in an email. ‘The traveler said that the cat belonged to someone else in the household, implying that he was not aware that the cat was in the suitcase,’ Farbstein said. ‘We call that a good CATch!’ she said.” Geez.

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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...