Tuesday, October 25, 2022

25: Los Angeles

An Ode to the New York Subway Overall, the subway remains far safer than other forms of transportation. Indeed, one reason New York City is much safer overall than small-town or even suburban America is that far fewer people die in traffic accidents. ......... the New York subway, with its extensive four-track system — which lets it put many local stops close together while allowing easy transfer to fast express trains — is arguably more functional than its counterparts elsewhere. ......... its main function is to make a high-density lifestyle possible. Not everyone wants to live that way, but some do. For what it’s worth, dense urban environments don’t have to be the hellscapes I suspect many Americans imagine they are. ........ The two New York neighborhoods I know best, the Upper West Side and Jackson Heights, Queens, have population densities of 61,000 and 42,000 people per square mile, respectively. ......... how life-enhancing it can be to have a huge range of services within easy walking distance. ........ not everyone wants to live in a car-based metropolis like Atlanta or Dallas, either. It’s only thanks to mass transit systems like the New York subway that the United States can offer large numbers of people an alternative to sprawl. So the subway makes America more varied in lifestyles, which enriches the nation as a whole, both culturally and economically......... neighborhoods like Jackson Heights are incredibly diverse, and living in or visiting them gives you a much wider view of humanity than most Americans ever encounter. ....... Hostility to groups that don’t look or sound like you tends to be highest when you don’t encounter people different from yourself very often......... the subway system plays a hugely positive role in the life of a city that offers things no other place in America can match.

Dnipro residents fear dark, cold winter as Russia smashes infrastructure With the elevator useless, Tetiana walked up five floors in the dark with her dachshund to a drab apartment with no candles or flashlights. Before walking the dog, she had spent the past two hours texting with relatives across the country, some of whom were also without power. “This is the first time this has happened,” said Tetiana, a middle-aged woman who declined to give her last name. “I’m in shock.” ....... (Targeting civilian infrastructure with no military purpose is a war crime.) ...... Russia’s bombing campaign, which left 1.5 million people across Ukraine without power on Saturday, has evoked scenes of European cities plunged into darkness during World War II. But in the 21st century, the tactic has upended remote work, interrupted distance schooling for children, and risks draining cellphones on which so many now rely to check on loved ones or learn of incoming rocket fire. ......... She said she regretted decades ago giving up a wood-fired stove, the use of which even today remains common in the countryside. Her family had saved food, especially for the baby, but could do little about the dropping temperatures.

Rishi Sunak Won’t Save Britain In March, Rishi Sunak was photographed filling up a car at a supermarket gas station. The purpose, of course, was self-promotion: Mr. Sunak was keen to advertise his role, as finance minister, in cutting the price of fuel. ......... The car, a modest red Kia Rio, wasn’t his (it belonged to a supermarket employee). Inside the garage, Mr. Sunak further embarrassed himself by showing he had no idea how to make a contactless payment. ........ Liz Truss’s disastrous 44-day premiership proved his warnings about economic “fairy tales” to be remarkably prescient; he commands the support of a majority of the faction-ridden Conservative parliamentary party; and his ascent — on the back of his grasp of economics — has calmed the financial markets. ......... That country, economically stagnant, regionally unbalanced, socially strafed, is in dire need of compassionate leadership. In Mr. Sunak, by conviction a devotee of small-state Thatcherism and with no visible concern for the lives of the majority, Britain is unlikely to get it. ........... it was estimated that in the absence of greater support, 1.3 million people would fall into absolute poverty. His scant plans for the worse off were deemed in The Times of London to be “insufficient, inefficient and unconservative.” The criticism was a fitting capstone for his tenure, defined by a selective and shallow concern for others.......... It’s a bad time for the country to be in dispassionate hands. Inflation stands at over 10 percent. Living standards have eroded, with Britons set to see the biggest drop in disposable income since records began. For the first time, demand for food banks is said to be outstripping supply. Energy blackouts could be coming in January. In April, after a further increase in bills, the number of people in fuel poverty could reach 10.7 million. Ambulance delays are now a palpable “threat to life.” The economy is anemic, set to have the highest inflation and lowest growth rates of the Group of 7 nations next year. ............ His attitude toward regional inequality, among the worst of any comparable developed country’s, is instructive: In office, he boasted about rigging Treasury formulas to shift resources from “deprived urban areas” into wealthier constituencies, regardless of need. .......... After 12 years in power, the Conservative Party is almost out of ideas. ........ it’s fair to assume that in the name of fiscal rectitude, he will rein in public spending and cut social protections. ....... at the outset of his tenure, one thing seems guaranteed: Mr. Sunak, conservative savior, won’t save the country.

What if We Let Majoritarian Democracy Take Root? Many Americans believe there’s something not quite right about majority rule — something threatening, something dangerous. It just feels wrong. ........ the United States is a “republic, not a democracy” and that democracy would be the ruin of American liberty. We are taught to imagine ourselves as potentially being at the awful mercy of most of our fellow citizens. ....... Our collective suspicion of majority rule rests on the legitimate observation that a majority can be as tyrannical as any despot. ........ If allowed to stand in full, the Civil Rights Act of 1875 — passed by only the third U.S. Congress to have Black members, who were elected in some of the first truly free elections in the South — would have outlawed discrimination in public accommodations like railroads, steamboats, hotels and theaters and prohibited jury exclusion on the basis of race. But the court, in an 1883 opinion, decided that neither the 13th nor the 14th Amendment gave Congress the power to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals. .......... the example of Reconstruction and its aftermath suggests that if majorities had been able to act, unimpeded, to protect the rights of Black Americans, it might have been a little less tragic than what we experienced instead. ......... If it were up to majorities of Americans — and if, more important, the American political system more easily allowed majorities to express their will — then Congress would have already strengthened the Voting Rights Act, codified abortion rights into law and protected the civil rights of L.G.B.T.Q. Americans. Even the legislative victories most Americans rightfully admire — like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — were possible only with a supermajority of lawmakers assembled in the wake of a presidential assassination. ......... If it were up to the national majority, American democracy would most likely be in a stronger place, not the least because Donald Trump might not have become president. Our folk beliefs about American government notwithstanding, the much-vaunted guardrails and endlessly invoked norms of our political system have not secured our democracy as much as they’ve facilitated the efforts of those who would degrade and undermine it. .......... Majority rule is not perfect but rule by a narrow, reactionary minority — what we face in the absence of serious political reform — is far worse. And much of our fear of majorities, the legacy of a founding generation that sought to restrain the power of ordinary people, is unfounded. It is not just that rule of the majority is, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the only true sovereign of a free people”; it is also the only sovereign that has reliably worked to protect those people from the deprivations of hierarchy and exploitation. ........ The liberty of would-be masters might suffer. The liberty of ordinary people, on the other hand, might flourish

The Way Los Angeles Is Trying to Solve Homelessness Is ‘Absolutely Insane’ The politics of the affordable housing crisis are terrible. The politics of what you’d need to do to solve it are even worse.

The Three Blunders of Joe Biden
Wonking Out: Facts, Feelings and Rural Politics
How Toni Morrison Wrote Her Most Challenging Novel
In Los Angeles, Politics Are More Complex Than a Racist Recording Indicates Recently leaked audio of Latino leaders exposed their ambition to gain power. But loyalties don’t always follow racial lines in the city’s most Latino district. ...... The audio also exposed frustrations that there weren’t more Latinos in elected office, at a time when they comprise half the city’s population. ........ In the 1980s, increasing numbers of Latino immigrants moved into South Los Angeles, fleeing Central American civil wars and Mexican economic disruption. ....... Latino residents now comprise the largest ethnic group in 10 of the city’s 15 Council districts ......... Overall, some 48 percent of Angelenos are Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau, while just under 9 percent are Black. ........ “There were gangs at every corner,” he said of those days, as he strolled the aisles of Superior Grocers on Central Avenue, speaking over piped-in Mexican country music. “You lived in fear that you would be assaulted or robbed.”

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