Daily Digest: March 10, 2021
Happy Wednesday, all.
There’s a lot of big news to get to, so I’ll keep this short, and just say this: If you haven’t read Kevin Fitzgerald’s piece on the mess at the Oasis Mobile Home Park,. you really should go read it now. It’s the first piece below in the “From the Independent” section.
The piece serves as a stark reminder of how many of our neighbors are struggling mightily. The Coachella Valley is home to an unbelievable amount of wealth and prosperity—while also being home to some of the most underserved areas in the entire state.
Go. Read it.
From the Independent
A Housing Emergency: A Lawsuit Against the Owners of the Oasis Mobile Home Park Shows Just How Dire Conditions Are in Some East Valley Neighborhoods
By Kevin Fitzgerald
March 10, 2021
An affordable-housing crisis in the eastern Coachella Valley has forced poor Latino residents to live in renegade mobile home parks for decades.
From ‘The Voice’ to the Valley: Steve Knill Enjoys His New Residency at V Wine Lounge
By Matt King
March 10, 2021
Steve Knill, who made an impression on The Voice in 2019, is currently performing every Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the V Wine […]
The Saga of Will and Walt: An Excerpt From Richard Alther’s ‘Bedside Matters’
By Richard Alther
March 9, 2021
Walter had mastered the business world at a cost—to discover in old age that a degenerative disease would eventually render his body useless. His mind, […]
And Now, the News
• At long last, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief package has been OK’d by both the House and the Senate. President Biden plans to sign the bill on Friday. NPR says: “The bill will direct a new round of aid to Americans—in the form of direct payments, extended unemployment benefits, an expanded child tax credit and more—almost a year after the pandemic first upended daily life in the United States.”
• Closer to home, Gov. Gavin Newsom gave his State of the State speech last night. Our partners at CalMatters broke down what the embattled governor had to say (and offered a fact-check to boot). Laurel Rosenhall reports: “Politics formed the backdrop for the governor’s unusual speech, in which he memorialized the 54,395 Californians who have died from COVID-19, while trying to instill optimism about a vaccinated future. ‘When this pandemic ends—and it will end soon—we’re not going back to normal. Normal was never good enough,’ he said. ‘Normal accepts inequity.’”
• Here is the weekly Riverside County COVID-19 District 4 report. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and rural points eastward.) As long as I’ve been looking at these reports, I have never seen such a low weekly positivity rate—4.1 percent. That’s good. However, five of our neighbors died due to COVID-19 last week, bringing the total to 900 overall. That number would have been unfathomable when this all started a year or so ago. It’s difficult for me to fathom now.
• From the “What in the ever-loving @%&# are they thinking in Iowa?” file comes a big sigh of relief: “A jury acquitted an Iowa newspaper reporter on Wednesday of two misdemeanor charges, ending a rare trial of a U.S. journalist arrested while reporting on a protest,” The Washington Post reported. “Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was arrested and pepper-sprayed while covering a racial justice protest that descended into chaos on May 31. Des Moines police also arrested Sahouri’s boyfriend at the time, Spenser Robnett, who said he had accompanied her to help keep her safe. The pair faced fines and up to 30 days in jail for two charges: failure to disperse and interference with official acts. Both of them were acquitted on all charges after a three-day joint trial, and less than two hours of jury deliberation.”
• It appears that the Tokyo Olympics, delayed by a year because of, well, you know, will go on this summer. However, as Reuters explains: “Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, two government sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.”
• We’re in a weird transitional time as far as vaccines go, as these next three stories illustrate. First, from The Washington Post comes this headline: “‘Hoping for a flood’: How states are preparing for a surge in vaccine supply.” Key quote: “State and local health officials who have spent months rationing shots are now racing to be ready for a surge in supply—enough for every adult by the end of May, as President Biden promised last week. They’ve been advised to plan for between 22 and 24 million doses a week by early April, an increase of as much as 50 percent from current allocations, according to two people familiar with the estimates who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them.”
• Next we bring you this headline from the Los Angeles Times: “L.A. County COVID-19 vaccine supply will tighten due to Johnson & Johnson shortage.” Key quote: “In the coming weeks, Los Angeles County’s supply of COVID-19 vaccine will tighten because of an expected shortage of shots manufactured by Johnson & Johnson—just as people with underlying health conditions become eligible for inoculations. ‘The next two weeks, we’re not going to get any Johnson & Johnson [vaccine doses]. That’s a manufacturing production issue,’ L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday, warning that the vaccine supply in March will be tight.”
• Third comes this news from Alaska: “Alaska on Tuesday became the first state in the nation to make COVID-19 vaccinations available to anyone over the age of 16 who lives or works in the state,” NPR reports.
• In other vaccine news, The New York Times examines how the increasingly successful vaccination effort in the U.S. came to be. Key quote: “Beyond the triumphant tone (by President Biden), a closer look at the ramp-up offers a more mixed picture, one in which the new administration expanded and bulked up a vaccine production effort whose key elements were in place when Mr. Biden took over for President Donald J. Trump. Both administrations deserve credit, although neither wants to grant much to the other.”
• If you’re toward the back of the vaccine line, perhaps you should check out Dr. B. The New York Times explains: “Extra shots—which must be used within hours once taken out of cold storage—have been doled out to drugstore customers buying midnight snacks, people who are friends with nurses and those who show up at closing time at certain grocery stores and pharmacies. At some larger vaccination sites, the race to use every dose sets off a flurry of end-of-the-day phone calls. In every case, if the leftover dose does not find an available arm, it must go into the trash. Now, a New York-based start-up is aiming to add some order to the rush for leftover doses. Dr. B, as the company is known, is matching vaccine providers who find themselves with extra vaccines to people who are willing to get one at a moment’s notice.”
• In non-vaccine news … the Los Angeles Times reports that the first 3-D-printed community in the U.S. is coming to the Coachella Valley. Yes, really: “The Coachella Valley community will cover five acres and include 15 eco-friendly homes—all of which will be made from 3-D-printed panels by Mighty Buildings, a construction technology company based in Oakland. Each property will include a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home of 1,450 square feet on a 10,000-square-foot lot with a swimming pool and deck for $595,000. A few will feature an additional 700-square-foot ADU with two bedrooms and a bathroom for $850,000.”
• The Conversation looks at the mess the previous administration made of the asylum-seeking process, with a piece carrying this headline: “Biden ends policy forcing asylum-seekers to ‘remain in Mexico’—but for 41,247 migrants, it’s too late.” Key quote: “So far, 41,888 cases have been completed or closed. Of those, just 641 people were granted asylum or otherwise given shelter in the United States, an approval rate of 1.5%. In 2017, by contrast, 40% of asylum-seekers had their claims granted by a U.S. immigration judge.”
• From the “What in the ever-loving @%&# are they thinking at Panda Express?” file comes this, from The Washington Post via SFGate: “The Panda Express cashier had already been forced to strip to her underwear in front of her fellow staff during a ‘self-improvement’ seminar in 2019, she said, and told to open up to the group about her vulnerabilities. But when a male colleague broke down crying while trying to do the same, the session’s leaders ordered her to go one step further: She had to ‘hug it out’ with him, both of them still undressed, as others filmed her or ogled at her body, the 23-year-old employee in California said. That was just part of a bizarre, psychologically abusive four-day seminar that ‘more and more resembled a cult initiation ritual as time went on,’ according to a lawsuit she filed last month against the fast-food chain in Los Angeles County Superior Court.”
• We’re going to be living with SARS-CoV-2 for a long while. Thus, ZDNet offers up this piece on the “UVMask”: “In late June of 2020, a fledgling Brighton, Colorado startup, UM Systems, initiated a crowdsourced project on Indiegogo and Kickstarter to create the ultimate PPE mask for civilian use. … The company was looking to solve multiple problems with existing solutions: … After over $4 million in seed backing, the company has shipped its first version.”
• And finally … here’s a Popular Mechanics story that made my brain ache: “Imagine this: In the far, far future, long after you’ve died, you’ll eventually come back to life. So will everyone else who ever had a hand in the history of human civilization. But in this scenario, returning from the dead is the relatively normal part. The journey home will be a hell of a lot weirder than the destination. Here’s how it will go down: A megastructure called a Dyson Sphere will provide a superintelligent artificial agent (AI) with the enormous amounts of power it needs to collect as much historical and personal data about you, so it can rebuild your exact digital copy. Once it’s finished, you’ll live your whole life (again) in a simulated reality, and when the time comes for you to die (again), you’ll be transported into a simulated afterlife, à la Black Mirror’s “San Junipero,” where you’ll get to hang out with your friends, family, and favorite celebrities forever. Yes, this is mind-boggling. But someday, it might also be very real.” Got all that? No? Me neither.
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