Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: June 27, 2022

Even though we all knew it was coming, the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade was somehow still stunning. And the magnitude of the messes left in the decision’s wake is massive.

Here are just several of these burgeoning messes.

First up: The Biden Administration is taking steps to try to assure that “abortion pills” remain available nationwide. Reuters reports: “President Joe Biden’s administration indicated it will seek to prevent states from banning a pill used for medication abortion in light of the Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, signaling a major new legal fight. The administration could argue in court that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, one of the pills used for medication abortions, pre-empts state restrictions, meaning federal authority outweighs any state action. That same argument has already been raised by Las Vegas-based GenBioPro Inc, which sells a generic version of the pill, in a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s restrictions on medication abortion.”

Second: Demand has surged for the Plan B pill. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required, sorry) says: “Some of the nation’s biggest retailers are rationing over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills as demand spikes following the Supreme Court ruling overturning a constitutional right to abortion. CVS Health Corp. and Walmart Inc. were limiting purchases of the pills, which were in short supply or out of stock Monday morning on major retailer websites. CVS was limiting purchases to three. Walmart had some pills available without limits, but only in cases where they wouldn’t ship until next month. Pills available this week were limited to four or six.”

Third: A lot of district attorneys are coming forward and saying they will not enforce state laws restricting abortion. Politico notes: “Dozens of elected prosecutors across the country—including a number representing blue cities nestled inside red states—are pledging to not press charges against patients or providers over abortion in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling giving states full control over abortion policy. So far, 84 district attorneys and other prosecutors from 29 states and territories and Washington, D.C., have signed the statement distributed by Fair and Just Prosecution. Altogether, the officials represent jurisdictions covering 87 million Americans, according to the organization.”

That number of district attorneys have grown since Politico published that story yesterday; click here for the updated list.

While it’s undeniably good that these prosecutors won’t go after women and their medical providers for what should be a basic human right, the fact that they have to violate the laws of the land to do so is just awful. Remember how ticked off a lot of people were when Sheriff Chad Bianco decided to ignore the state’s mask mandate? Well, now a lot of us—myself included—are now applauding these DAs for similarly disregarding a state law.

Like I said … what an awful mess.

Fourth: States like California, where abortion access will remain legal, have no idea what to expect regarding the possible influx of people needing care from other states. Our partners at CalMatters note: “With federal abortion protections eliminated in a watershed U.S. Supreme Court decision, California is preparing for a flood of out-of-state women seeking abortions as it positions itself as a stronghold for reproductive rights. Most lawmakers are even willing to foot the multi-million-dollar bill. But amid all the politicking one crucial question remains unanswered: How does California plan for a significant increase when it doesn’t know how many abortions are currently performed in the state? Although almost every other state tracks abortion information—including how many people arrive from out of state—California is one of three that does not. The California Department of Public Health has not kept track of any abortion data since 1997. When CalMatters asked why, the agency did not provide an answer. ‘Having a lack of information and data is sometimes an issue,’ said Jessica Pinckney, executive director of ACCESS Reproductive Justice, which provides funding for those who can’t afford abortions. … A recent brief from UCLA’s Center on Law, Reproductive Health, and Policy estimated that post-Roe, 26 states would ban all or nearly all abortions—prompting between 8,000 and 16,100 more people to travel to California seeking abortions each year.”

Buckle up, folks. The reverberations after our country’s embarrassing step backward are going to be huge.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Restaurant News Bites: Hooray for Taco Stands; The Impending Rebirth of Luchows

By Charles Drabkin

June 25th, 2022

The latest Coachella Valley food news, including a popup location for Hoja Blanco; Gabino’s Creperie expanding to Indio; and more!

‘Elvis’ Is Back! Austin Butler Is Amazing in the New Biopic—but Tom Hanks Is Terrible

By Bob Grimm

June 27th, 2022

Elvis could’ve been a classic, but it’s marred by a surprisingly strange performance from Tom Hanks.

The Audiences Scores: Beavis and Butt-head Are Back, and as Funny as Ever

By Bob Grimm

June 27th, 2022

In 2022, the boys basically do what they did in 1998: They try to score, and they mock all that they encounter.

I Remember Stars: An Excerpt From David Church’s ‘Thomas Edison and the Purgatory Equation’

By Staff

June 27th, 2022

Hiding in plain sight between the lines of history, Thomas Edison and the Purgatory Equation imagines the Wizard of Menlo Park’s decades-long quest to penetrate the veil between life and death.

Familiar Horror: Ethan Hawke Is Fantastic in ‘The Black Phone,’ but the Film Offers Nothing New

By Bob Grimm

June 27th, 2022

It has its moments, but The Black Phone isn’t scary as a whole; instead, it feels like something you’ve seen too many times before.

More News

• The COVID-19 situation in the Coachella Valley remains pretty bad and is getting worse. The results of Palm Springs wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2 done June 20 and 21 are in: “The average number of copies (per liter) recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant has increased. The average of 634,207 copies/L from the previous week’s average has slightly increased to an average of 643,585 copies/L for June 20 and 21, 2022.” For the first time, I can say that I, personally, contributed to these numbers. I do not recommend.

• Hospitalizations are up, too. According to state numbers—last updated Friday—38 COVID-positive or suspected COVID-positive people were in the valley’s three hospitals. These numbers, while nowhere near the stats we saw during the bad winter waves, are nonetheless rising and concerning.

A political shift seems to be happening in the U.S. The PBS Newshour says: “More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country—Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns—in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump. But nowhere is the shift more pronounced—and dangerous for Democrats—than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump’s Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. 

California has a budget deal. Our partners at CalMatters break it down. Here’s a snippet on the most publicized part: “The tax rebate program, which has been publicly debated for months, is the centerpiece of the budget deal. Under the $9.5 billion plan, more than 95% of taxpayers—those making as much as $250,000 a year, or $500,000 if they file jointly—will receive a payment this fall. The amounts vary based on income and whether the recipients have dependents, so a low-income family with children will receive $1,050, while a single taxpayer with a higher income will receive just $200.

Some crime is up in Palm Springs … way up. According to the Palm Springs Post: “The data … in 2021, it shows between a 25% and 50% spike in some reported crimes in the city. The largest increase by volume was reported in larceny-theft, such as stealing a bicycle or a catalytic convertor, as well as shoplifting. In 2020 there were 1,050 of these thefts reported in the city. In 2021 there were 1,418. Motor vehicle thefts increased roughly 50% in 2021—from 270 reported to 447.”

• And finally … The Associated Press headline says “Amazon’s Alexa could soon mimic voice of dead relatives.” Wait, what? An explanation: “The capability, unveiled at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas, is in development and would allow the virtual assistant to mimic the voice of a specific person based on a less than a minute of provided recording. Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, said at the event Wednesday that the desire behind the feature was to build greater trust in the interactions users have with Alexa by putting more ‘human attributes of empathy and affect.’ ‘These attributes have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost ones that we love,’ Prasad said. ‘While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last.’ In a video played by Amazon at the event, a young child asks ‘Alexa, can Grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?’ Alexa then acknowledges the request, and switches to another voice mimicking the child’s grandmother. The voice assistant then continues to read the book in that same voice.” Cool? Or creepy? Or, uh, yes to both? You decide.

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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...