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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Daily Digest

07 May 2020
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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to play the exciting game that is most definitely NOT sweeping the nation: Six Degrees of Separation: Whackadoo Conspiracy Theory Edition! However, Kevin Bacon was not available, so we will be seeing how many degrees of separation you—YES YOU!!!—are from the newest conspiracy star in all the pandemic-stricken land! We’ll start off with Judy Mikovits, Ph.D. She’s the star of that new documentary you’ve likely seen some of your friends posting on social media, even though they really should know better. In an effort to be fair and open-minded, I actually tracked it down and watched it today. My Impression: The documentary is 1) well-crafted and slick, 2) undeniably interesting and 3) completely packed with easily refutable and deeply-harmful-if-believed nonsense!…
06 May 2020
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It’s often said that you can’t prove a negative. However, that’s not accurate: Mathematically, you generally can. It is accurate, however that you can’t disprove a conspiracy theory to a conspiracy theorist. This is something I have learned, painfully, over the years during many squabbles with them. For example, there was the guy who wanted me, while I was the editor of the Tucson Weekly, to expose how Sept. 11 was an inside job. The key piece of evidence, he said, was the fact that the World Trade Center 7 building collapsed, despite not being directly hit by a plane. So I sent him some articles, including one from Popular Mechanics, thoroughly explaining why WTC 7 collapsed. “Well, that stuff is obviously faked,” he said.…
05 May 2020
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Today was one of those days where I sat at my desk all day, and was busy all day … and then all of a sudden, it was the early evening, and my to-do list was just as long as it had been first thing this morning. I was going to tell you my harrowing and baffling story of trying to navigate the federal small-business loan process, but that’ll have to wait until later this week. In the meantime, strap yourselves in for news from this completely not normal Cinco de Mayo: • The county supervisors’ meeting today—at which supervisors are considering rescinding county health orders that go further than the state’s orders—has been something of a debacle. As of this writing, it’s still going…
04 May 2020
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This has been one hell of a news day—one of the busiest news days since this whole mess started, I’d say—so let’s get right to it: • Big news item No. 1: The state’s reopening process is slated to begin on Friday, with, for starters, retail stores allowed to open for pickup. Here are the details on Gov. Newsom’s announcement today, from our partners at CalMatters. • Big news item No. 2: According to The New York Times, a Trump administration projection anticipates deaths from COVID-19 will skyrocket over the next month. Meanwhile, states—many of which are currently seeing a rise in cases—are continuing the reopening process. Meanwhile, nothing makes sense anymore, and I need a cocktail. • Big news item No. 3: Arizona, aka…
03 May 2020
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“As the (COVID-19) pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres The United Nations honors World Press Freedom Day every May 3—and on this World Press Freedom Day, many media organizations find themselves in serious trouble, because of the economic chaos brought to us by the pandemic. I am going to turn things over to A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, by sharing part of a note he sent to me and a whole bunch of other news publishers on Friday: “I wanted to reach out to you to say how much we appreciate…
01 May 2020
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Welcome to May 2020—which should be one of the most fascinating months in American history. April was horrible, in terms of deaths and economic calamity—but for the most part, the country hunkered down and sheltered in place. But now that May is here, the figurative wheels may be starting to come off. Many are states starting to reopen—despite an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Some local governments in California are taking steps to reopen, in defiance of the state order. Protests seem to be getting angrier—including those close to home in Orange County, over Gov. Newsom’s surprising decision to close the beaches there, and only there, this weekend. Here in the Coachella Valley, some are getting restless, too. The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce…
30 Apr 2020
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I’ve been fortunate enough to have a varied and always-interesting journalism career over the last 25 years—but it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, I’ve covered some stories that were downright brutal in terms of their emotional impact. When I worked for The Associated Press in the San Francisco bureau, I was one of the first handful of people to know that John Denver had perished after his small, experimental plane went down in Monterey Bay on Oct. 12, 1997. When I was a reporter for the Daily Sparks Tribune, I covered the first trial of Siaosi Vanisi, who sits on death row in Nevada after randomly ambushing and murdering University of Nevada, Reno, police officer George Sullivan with a hatchet, on Jan. 13, 1998.…
29 Apr 2020
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It’s been yet another busy news day—in fact, there are links to more than 20 interesting stories below. But before we get into the news of the day, I wanted to share a link to my editor’s note (tweaked ever so slightly for online publication) from the Independent’s May print edition. It covers all sorts of stuff I’ve already covered in this space (our coloring book, our Facebook grant, etc.), but if you want a recap of how things are going with your local independent newspaper, here’s a good place to start. I’ll discuss the May print edition a little more tomorrow. But in the meantime … here are today’s links: • The big news of the day: Preliminary study results now show that Gilead…