Letter From LA: 03-18-2021

Posted on March 18, 2021
Filed Under Culture, Main, People, Politics | Leave a Comment

We had a glorious short burst of rain Tuesday night, March 9, which left the city sparkling with puffy white clouds, clean air and baby-blue skies. It was a gorgeous, brisk winter day, the kind of weather that most likely drew thousands and thousands of emigrants to Southern California decades ago (along, of course, with the possibility of jobs and decent housing). Unfortunately, Travis Bickle’s wish did not come true: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all [the] scum off the streets.”

Post Rain in Los Angeles

The next day was the 10th anniversary of the aborted “Arab Spring” in Syria, which was brutally put down by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Despite calls for US intervention in what turned out to be one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century, President Obama didn’t want to commit this country to another Middle Eastern war. According to the BBC, Obama’s advisors “argued that a more limited engagement could have effectively tilted the balance of power against President Bashar al-Assad. Among the options: arming the rebels and setting up a safe zone from where they could operate early in the conflict, or military strikes on the Syrian air force to push Assad to the negotiating table.” Instead, the administration provided humanitarian and some covert military aid, while attempting political negotiations aimed at Assad’s departure. It didn’t work. Russia entered the war in 2015, turning the tide against the rebels. The BBC again: “Its anti-aircraft weapons closed the door on even the remote chance of a US intervention. Its air force solidified Assad’s grip on Syria’s cities, culminating in the military victory over Aleppo and giving Moscow new leverage in the Middle East while sidelining the US.” And we all know the horrible results.

Add this to your corporate greed files: The Los Angeles city council had decided that grocery store workers in the city were due hazardous duty pay (being that they were on the frontlines, facing COVID-19 every minute of the day), so they finalized a temporary $5 per hour hazard “hero pay” (for 120 days) for grocery workers. Shortly thereafter supermarket giant Krogers announced plans to shut down three grocery stores. The chain — which operates Ralphs and Food 4 Less in Southern California — blamed the closures on the city’s new law. Grocery store workers make about $15 per hour — about $26,000 a year — which, for a family of four, falls just short of US poverty levels. A recent Brookings Institution report found that Kroger’s profits increased by 90% in 2020, thanks to the pandemic as consumers avoided eating out and bought more food to prepare at home. Thank you, Ralphs.

As Los Angeles opens its doors again to restaurants, movie theaters, theme parks and non-essential retail stores, life may return to (semi)normal — meaning traffic and congestion again on the city’s streets. Empty boulevards and freeways were a hallmark of COVID-19 for almost a year — actually making it a pleasure to drive around (except for the lousy third-world, pot-holed roads, but that’s another story) — but in the last few weeks traffic has worsened and is now approaching pre-pandemic levels: i.e., meaning it takes an hour to drive a mile that should take five minutes. Ah, life in the big city.

Want to add insult to injury? The annoying tourist buses are back!!

Hollywood Tour Bus

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