Nicholas Kristof | Lessons for America From a Weird Portland – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/opinion/portland-politics.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Imagespace/Alamy Live News

 

“PORTLAND, Ore. — As an Oregonian, I’ve always been proud of this picture-postcard metropolis, so I’ve been pained to see it portrayed as a war zone or dying city, and doubly pained when a local businessman recently recounted to me his effort to recruit an executive from out of state.

The executive came for a visit — and, when she saw today’s Portland, with its homeless camps and boarded-up shops downtown, declined the job.

I think that executive erred: Whatever the scars from big protests that began last summer against racial injustice, this city has strong fundamentals and is resilient. But the travails here are real and offer lessons for the rest of the country about the uses and abuses of progressivism.

Last summer President Donald Trump inflamed the crisis in Portland by sending in unneeded federal troops to deal with mostly peaceful protests. That aggravated the upheaval, provoked months of rioting and empowered fringe groups, and perhaps it also obscured the need to stand resolutely against violence by local troublemakers on both left and right. There was too much deference to people sowing chaos under the banner of social justice, perhaps for fear of seeming unprogressive, and after the feds left, the city never tried hard enough to pivot to re-establish order.

Just this week, there was new rioting in Portland after a white police officer in Minnesota shot and killed a Black man, Daunte Wright. Portlanders have reason to protest peacefully — the police arrest African-Americans in the city at four times the rate of whites, one study found — but violence doesn’t serve any cause other than the election of Republicans.

The local slogan is “Keep Portland Weird,” but businesses boarded up to protect against rioters suggest not weirdness but melancholy. A beautiful elk statue that had presided in a park for 120 years had to be removed after its base was vandalized by protesters. Activists have defied the law and taken over a building known as the Red House, frightening neighbors.

Underscoring the concern for law and order, this year Portland is on track to reach 100 homicides, far exceeding the record of 70 set in 1987.  . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT |NYT Comment:

Thank you Nicholas Kristof. Empty headed young progressive radicals are attempting to dismantle town government right here in Hamden CT. These idealistic idiots on the left are doing damage in many parts of the country. Their behaviour is so insidious, it is hard to describe or counter. Your op-ed is a great description of the damage done by well meaning liberals, who are essentally intellectually lazy.

Wall Street Is Donating to Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Is That a Problem? – The New York Times

Even had she not raised more money than her rivals, Tali Farhadian Weinstein would be a formidable candidate in the nine-way race to become the Manhattan district attorney, perhaps the most high-profile local prosecutor’s office in the country.

She was a Rhodes scholar, has an elite legal résumé and is the only candidate who has worked for both the Justice Department and a city prosecutor’s office. And while most of the candidates are campaigning as reformers intent on reducing incarceration, Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, 45, has staked out a slightly more conservative position, expressing concerns about guns and gangs.

But what most sets Ms. Farhadian Weinstein apart from the field is her fund-raising. As of January, she had raised $2.2 million, far more than her competitors, hundreds of thousands of it from Wall Street, where her husband is a major hedge fund manager.

Her opponents, legal ethicists and good government advocates have raised questions about that support, pointing out that the Manhattan district attorney, by virtue of geography, has jurisdiction over a large number of financial crimes.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:l

Is there an established mechanism where this talented female lawyer could recuse herself, if a case involves one of her major donors? I just watched the Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, and it was an eye opener. Gordon Gecko teaches Bud Fox, that only good trade is more or less guaranteed by insider information. But I digress slightly. Ms. Weinstein has much more on her long resume, than just finacial support from a few rich friends who are hedge-fund investors.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Wisconsin Governor Declares State of Emergency Over Wildfire Conditions – The New York Times

“Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin on Monday signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to elevated wildfire conditions, underscoring statewide efforts to control fires that have already burned nearly 1,500 acres this year.

The executive order allows state agencies to assist in wildfire prevention, response and recovery efforts.

It also allows support from the Wisconsin National Guard, according the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” Mr. Evers said in a news release.

In the past week, there have been 149 wildfires across Wisconsin, according to a map on the department’s website, and there have been at least 340 fires since the start of the year.

Over the weekend, the majority of Wisconsin was under a very high risk for fire danger, including counties along the Illinois state border and counties along Lake Michigan. Wildfire conditions across the state will persist as long as there is a mix of dry vegetation, unseasonably warm temperatures, low humidity and increasing winds, the department said.

Burning permits for debris piles, barrels and grass were suspended last week, and fire officials advised residents to avoid all outdoor burning, including campfires, and to properly extinguish cigarettes.

While wildfires can occur at anytime of the year, the department said, the majority of fires happen between March and May, making spring the most critical fire season in Wisconsin.”

Opinion | Georgia’s Voter Law Is Called ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ for a Reason – The New York Times

Mr. Ward is a historian who has written extensively about the civil rights movement, the South and politics.

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Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photographs by Getty Images

“Seventy-five years ago this July, a World War II veteran named Maceo Snipes reportedly became the first Black man to cast a ballot in his rural Georgia county. The next day, a white man shot him in his front yard, and Mr. Snipes would soon afterward die from those wounds.

Fortunately, three generations removed from the political reign of terror that claimed Mr. Snipes’s life, voter suppression seems much less likely to arrive by bullet. But we may not be as distant in our political moment from theirs as we might think: The long struggle to block access to the ballot has always relied on legal maneuvering and political schemes to achieve what bullets and bombs alone could not.

What legislators in Georgia and across the country have reminded us is that backlash to expanded voting rights has often arrived by a method that our eras share in common: by laws, like Georgia’s Senate Bill 202, passed by elected politicians.

Opponents of the new Georgia law denounce the legislation as “Jim Crow 2.0” precisely because they recognize the continuities between past and present. The bill’s most ardent supporters, who lined up in front of a painting of a building on the site of an antebellum plantation to watch Gov. Brian Kemp sign it into law, seem less interested in distancing themselves from that past and more eager for Americans to forget it.” . . .

Opinion | Biden’s Chance to Save the Everglades – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/27/opinion/biden-environment-everglades-florida.html

“. . . The project in question, launched near the end of the Clinton administration, is an effort to restore the biological health of the Florida Everglades. Originally funded at $7.8 billion, the program is now more than 20 years old, and while some progress has been made, it has moved in fits and starts. It is now at a critical point, with several major plans on the cusp of success if the money can be found. Decisions taken in the next few months may well determine whether the Everglades project lives up to its promise of reviving the South Florida ecosystem.

The project is essentially a vast re-plumbing scheme aimed at replicating as nearly as possible the historical flows of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee — flows that a pioneer advocate named Marjory Stoneman Douglas called the River of Grass — that once made South Florida a biological wonderland. These flows slowed to trickle starting in the late 1940s when Congress ordered up a massive flood control project to protect Florida’s booming cities, which looked like a smart idea at the time.

A purple gallinule in the Royal Palm area of the Everglades National Park.

A mangrove island in the Florida Bay area of the park.

The Army Corps of Engineers responded by draining a half-million acres south of the lake with a vast web of levees, canals and pumping stations — an impressive piece of engineering that flushed Lake Okeechobee’s copious overflows out to sea and away from the cities instead of letting it move slowly and naturally southward, as it had for centuries. This made Florida’s eastern coast safe for development and its midlands safe for agriculture, in particular for the big sugar companies, but it was also an environmental disaster, robbing the Everglades and the fishing grounds of Florida Bay of their traditional sources of fresh water, and nearly killing both.” . . .

The Editorial Board | Governor Cuomo, End Long-Term Solitary Confinement – The New York Times

By The Editorial BoardThe editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.March 25, 2021The State of New York stands poised to overhaul the use of solitary confinement in its prisons and jails — a practice widely recognized as inhumane, arbitrary and counterproductive.Last week, state legislators passed the HALT (Humane Alternatives to Long-Term) Solitary Confinement Act, aimed at restricting the conditions under which inmates are held in isolation, including limiting confinement to no more than 15 consecutive days. The bill passed both the Senate and the Assembly with a supermajority of support and now awaits action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He should move promptly to sign the reforms into law. The new restrictions would take effect a year after the bill becomes law.Despite piles of research detailing the brutal physical and psychological toll exacted by solitary confinement, it is a common form of discipline. New York correctional employees have wide discretion to throw people into “the box,” as Special Housing Units are known, where inmates spend 23 hours a day in a tiny space cut off from most human contact. Signs that someone belongs to a gang can land them in the box. So can “eyeballing” a guard.

Ian Manuel | I Survived 18 Years in Solitary Confinement – The New York Times

Mr. Manuel is an author, activist and poet. When he was 14 years old, he was sentenced to life in prison with no parole and spent 18 years in solitary confinement. His forthcoming memoir, “My Time Will Come,” details these experiences.

“Imagine living alone in a room the size of a freight elevator for almost two decades.

As a 15-year-old, I was condemned to long-term solitary confinement in the Florida prison system, which ultimately lasted for 18 consecutive years. From 1992 to 2010. From age 15 to 33. From the end of the George H.W. Bush administration to the beginnings of the Obama era.

For 18 years I didn’t have a window in my room to distract myself from the intensity of my confinement. I wasn’t permitted to talk to my fellow prisoners or even to myself. I didn’t have healthy, nutritious food; I was given just enough to not die.

These circumstances made me think about how I ended up in solitary confinement.

In the summer of 1990, shortly after finishing seventh grade, I was directed by a few older kids to commit a robbery. During the botched attempt, I shot a woman. She suffered serious injuries to her jaw and mouth but survived. It was reckless and foolish on my part, the act of a 13-year-old in crisis, and I’m simply grateful no one died.

For this I was arrested and charged as an adult with armed robbery and attempted murder.

My court-appointed lawyer advised me to plead guilty, telling me that the maximum sentence would be 15 years. So I did. But my sentence wasn’t 15 years — it was life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

Chuck Schumer Stalls Climate Overhaul of Flood Insurance Program – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — One of the federal government’s main efforts to push Americans to prepare for climate threats is in question after the Senate majority leader’s office objected to a plan to adjust flood insurance rates.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was preparing to announce new rates for federal flood insurance on April 1, so that the prices people pay would more accurately reflect the risks they face. The change would very likely help reduce Americans’ vulnerability to floods and hurricanes by discouraging construction in high-risk areas. But it would also increase insurance costs for some households, making it a tough sell politically.

Last week, the office of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, pushed back on the changes, according to several people familiar with the discussion. That pushback has caused FEMA to pause the rollout of the new rates.” . . .

Excellent reporting, though disgusting. Thank you.
Here is the top comment, one of many good ones, with my two cents.
Theresa McDermott
Essex ct1h ago

I don’t understand Schumer’s objection. The current data suggests that lower cost homes have been overpaying on flood insurance while higher cost homes have been underpaying based on a formula that assesses risk. Flood insurance is one of the most powerful tools to limit climate change damage to communities. The Biden administration has rightfully established climate change as a top priority. What am I missing? Absent additional data, this is a disgraceful position for Schumer.

5 Replies146 Recommended

 

 
 
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
 
Excellent but disturbing reporting, thank you. Schumer is a disgrace. This makes him look like a self-centered, selfish, crook and ass. We need politicians with an iota of integrity.
He is screwing the public and the country, to pamper to his high-end donor base. The rest of us have to pay for their federally subsidized mansions on the water, that have to be rebuilt every time there is a big storm. It is crazy, wrong and stupid. But they write big campaign contribution checks. Schumer clearly puts his narrow self-interest ahead of the country.

Farhad Manjoo | In California, Berkeley Beat Back NIMBYs – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Andrew Burton for The New York Times

“A century ago, the civic leaders of Berkeley, Calif., pioneered what would become one of America’s most enduring systems of racial inequity — a soft apartheid of zoning.

In 1916, the city that is now a byword for progressivism became one of the first in the country to set aside large tracts of its land for single-family homes. Berkeley’s purpose was openly racist; as a real estate magazine of the era explained, excluding apartments and other densely populated residences was part of an effort to protect the wealthy white residents of Berkeley from an “invasion of Negroes and Asiatics.”

In the decades that followed, Berkeley’s restrictive zoning would be adopted by cities across California and the nation. Combined with other forms of discrimination in real estate — including “redlining,” which restricted access to loans for homes in nonwhite areas, another practice that shaped Berkeley’s growth — zoning limits cemented racism into America’s urban landscape.

Last week, Berkeley finally took a step in a new direction. The City Council adopted a measure that acknowledges the racist history of single-family zoning and begins a process to eliminate the restriction by 2022. It is a very baby step: Berkeley’s measure is mainly symbolic, putting off for the future the tough business of actually rezoning the city.” . . .

Ezra Klein | Texas Is a Rich State in a Rich Country, and Look What Happened – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Mark Felix/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“A few months back, because I really know how to live, I spent a night reading “The Green Swan: Central banking and financial stability in the age of climate change.” The report, released in January 2020 by the Bank for International Settlements, argued that central banks, concerned as they are with the stability of prices and financial systems, were negligent if they ignored climate change. The economies we know are inseparable from the long climatic peace in which they were built. But that peace is ending. There are no stable prices in a burning world.

This is one of those papers where the measured language preferred by technocrats strains against the horrors they are trying to describe. What emerges is almost an apocalyptic form of poetry. One line, in particular, has rung in my head for months. “Climate-related risks will remain largely unhedgeable as long as systemwide action is not undertaken.” If you know anything about financial regulators, you know the word “unhedgeable” is an alarm bell shrieking into the night. Financial systems are built to hedge risk. When a global risk is unhedgeable, the danger it poses is existential.

The point of the report is simply this: The world’s economic systems teeter atop “backward-looking risk assessment models that merely extrapolate historical trends.” But the future will not be like the past. Our models are degrading by the day, and we don’t understand — we don’t want to understand — how much in society could topple when they fail, and how much suffering that could bring. One place to start is by recognizing how fragile the basic infrastructure of civilization is even now, in this climate, in rich countries.

Which brings me to Texas. Two facts from that crisis have gotten less attention than they deserve. First, the cold in Texas was not a generational climatic disaster. The problem, as Roger Pielke Jr., an environmental analyst at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote in his newsletter, is that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ worst-case scenario planning used a 2011 cold snap that was a one-in-10-year weather event. It wasn’t even the worst cold Texas experienced in living memory: in 1989 temperatures and electricity generation (as a percentage of peak demand) dropped even further than they did in 2011. Texas hadn’t just failed to prepare for the far future. It failed to prepare for the recent past.

Second, it could have been so much worse. Bill Magness, the president and chief executive of ERCOT, said Texas was “seconds and minutes” from complete energy system collapse — the kind where the system needs to be rebuilt, not just rebooted. “If we had allowed a catastrophic blackout to happen, we wouldn’t be talking today about hopefully getting most customers their power back,” Mr. Magness said. “We’d be talking about how many months it might be before you get your power back.”

This was not the worst weather imaginable and this was not the worst outcome imaginable. Climate change promises far more violent events to come. But this is what it looks like when we face a rare-but-predictable stretch of extreme weather, in a rich state in a rich country. The result was nearly 80 deaths — and counting — including an 11-year-old boy found frozen in his bed. I can barely stand to write those words.” . . .