How to Keep Walking In a Winter Wonderland

By Matthew Robare

For years, urban public policy has promoted the elimination of highway fatalities known as “Vision Zero.” And in the midst of growing concern around climate change, transportation policy in American cities is curiously schizophrenic. For nine months of the year, when temperatures are decent and precipitation is limited to rain, most cities encourage people to use alternatives to cars and reduce carbon footprints.

But come winter in many parts of the country, it all goes out the window.

Winter often reveals a preference for cars over other forms of transportation on the part of policymakers, or at least an assumption that everyone will have access to a vehicle when the weather gets cold. One interesting phenomenon is called a “sneckdown,” which appears where roads have been overbuilt; some snow remains after some roads are plowed and driven on. Transportation activists record the storms, and they are remarkably consistent from storm to storm and year to year.

Many cities informally allow residents to claim parking spots they dig out after snow storms. The main result of this seems to be escalating violence as people argue over who dug out which spot, or slash each other’s tires for parking in one. Many cities promote cycling with protected bike lanes in the warmer months, but during winter they use bike lanes to store plowed snow.

Another way is revealed by what types of pathways are cleared. Where snow is common, American cities clear the roadways for cars, but often rely on property owners to clear sidewalks, crossings, and, as mentioned, bus stops. The result is that, in heavy or frequent snow, pedestrian and transit infrastructure can become completely unusable since property owners spend all their effort digging out their cars and shoveling their driveways. It is especially common for ramps installed under the Americans With Disabilities Act to be unusable into spring because the snow plows keep piling snow and slush in them, creating great troughs of icy water no one in a wheelchair or walker can travel through.

According to Grist, enforcement of fines for failing to clear sidewalks in New York City is “between spotty and non-existent.

That seems to be the case in other American cities, as well. In Boston and Cambridge, enforcement is left to the pedestrians themselves by taking pictures of problem areas and sending them to the city. This is, of course, problematic because it assumes that people will be able to walk to the problem areas, but it also doesn’t take into account the scale of the problem—a walking trip of a mile could involve crossing the street multiple times and passing in front of hundreds of properties. A body camera to video it all would be more useful.

Even better is the radical idea that, as Grist says, cities started thinking that “Sidewalks are as much of a public good as roads and pedestrians should be as entitled to safe, ice free surfaces as cars.”

Another factor is that the average age of homeowners, especially in large cities, is rising. …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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David Webb: The catastrophe in Venezuela

By David Webb Venezuela is a tragedy under the socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro aided by Cuba and other players including Iran, China, and Russia. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Christianity & Culture War

By Rod Dreher

David French, who has litigated religious liberty cases, makes a strong, necessary point about anti-Christian bigotry.

He’s talking about the case of the progressive, expensive Sheridan School in Washington, DC, which I wrote about here the other day. It announced this week that it would no longer play sporting matches against Immanuel Christian School now that it knows Immanuel, which it has played in the past, has a (bog-standard) policy requiring its employees to live up to orthodox Christian sexual purity standards. The Sheridan headmistress said that many in her school consider Immanuel’s policy to be anti-LGBT, and that his makes them feel “unsafe” there.

French says that this is obviously a b.s. story to cover Sheridan’s anti-Christian bigotry. But here’s the point worth emphasizing:

It’s time for Christian parents, pastors, and politicians to understand a simple fact — in the fight for religious freedom, we often focus our efforts on the less important battleground. Legal protections matter less and less when the culture drifts so far from Christianity that shunning, shaming, and exclusion become the norm. Stay silent to keep your job. Change your policies to keep your educational opportunities. Say nothing so that you’ll preserve your public reputation.

And in this more-important cultural fight, it’s critical to wrap our arms around principles, not politicians. There’s not one darn thing that even the president can or should do to force the Sheridan school to associate with the kids from Immanuel. Combatting intolerance is a matter of persuasion, and it depends on Christians exercising a degree of personal courage and resolve — if you feel pressure at work, speak anyway. If you see a colleague facing persecution for his beliefs, stand with him. If a Christian school faces public shame and public sanction for its fidelity to Scripture, send your kids anyway.

This is a point I keep emphasizing when I talk about The Benedict Option: that the struggle we small-o orthodox Christians are in now, and that will only intensify over the coming decades, is not primarily one of politics and law. The people who hate us will not have to pass more laws in order to stigmatize us and render us untouchable. If you — and, more important, your children — are not prepared to bear the scorn and spite of the mainstream for the sake of your faith, you (and they) will lose that faith. This is a time of testing. It is not a time for rationalizing. If you aren’t making the small decisions daily that lead to deeper conversion and discipleship, you will not be ready to make the right decision when the moment comes, as it surely will.

Let’s say that our politicians and judges do a bang-up job of protecting our right to educate our kids as we like, and to live out our faith. What good will that do if we are so intimidated by the scorn and stigma of bigots like the upper middle class people of the Sheridan School that we surrender …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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For people and for a community to flourish, faith and the church is needed

By Steve Gatena Sure, we can get by with just a friend or two or three, but to thrive, to live an uplifted life, we need a flock. We need a community. Faith communities are critically important to the fabric of society. They are some of the most effective, efficient, and compelling organizations at helping people who have nowhere to turn. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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The Molester Priest Of My Childhood

By Rod Dreher

To the credit of the new bishop, Michael Duca, today the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge published a list of 37 Baton Rouge area clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse over the decades. Many of them are dead, including Father Clyde Landry. He was the Catholic priest in my hometown during my childhood. He was young then, and known for being active with the youth. I wasn’t Catholic, but I used to go on Catholic youth outings with him, and to CYO dances he would sponsor. He disappeared one day. Never knew why.

In fact, he was a child molester. From the diocesan website:

The image cuts off. It just says that he was laicized in 1999, and lives at the Servants of the Paraclete, a molester priest colony in New Mexico.

(He ministered there for a few years, dying of a heart attack in 2003. He was in his early 50s. In 2011, Father Gordon MacRae, a Catholic priest who is in prison for molestation — he protests his innocence, and the Wall Street Journal‘s Dorothy Rabinowitz has written a lot in his defense — wrote something about how Father Clyde, out of his own brokenness, ministered to him in prison. People are more than the sum total of their sins, remember.)

If Clyde Landry had allegations against him in four parishes, how many kids did he molest? How many did he molest before he arrived in St. Francisville I know two boys that I grew up with, both altar boys when Landry was the local priest, who I believe were almost certainly molested by him. Nobody told me this, certainly not their family members. Back in 2002, when I was researching the Catholic sex abuse scandal, I came across Landry’s name in connection with Servants of the Paraclete, and my blood ran cold. The information I found did not say that he was a child molester, but I knew what that facility was, and the information said he had been treated there.

Then, the broken lives of those two boys, who are now men around my age, made sense. Their self-destructive behavior as adults followed a pattern common in child sexual abuse victims. They both came from very good families, faithful Catholic families, families who encouraged their sons to serve at the altar. I may never learn for sure if these men were Clyde Landry’s victims, and I don’t need to know. But I’m certain they were. If you’ve ever read about the lives of victims, or even just watched Spotlight (the Phil Saviano character), you know what I’m talking about.

A friend from the Baton Rouge diocese texted me about the news:

Just awakens the rage all over again every time it gets down to the individual level.

It’s so easy for these things to fall into abstraction: “huh, only 37” I mutter to myself…

Then you remember that that’s a nightmare for a real person, and their family.

But I know, it’s all just rabbit hole stuff, right Cardinal?

He’s …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Wokeness As Weakness

By Rod Dreher

New York magazine reports on the controversy, and talks about how Young Adult author Amelie Wen Zhao — whose professional self-immolation amid a savage struggle session with Social Justice Warriors I wrote about yesterday — was heretofore an enthusiastic participant in woke YA social media culture. Excerpt:

Blood Heir, the first in a planned three-book series, began as the ultimate social media–meets–publishing success story. Zhao matched with her agent, Park Literary’s Peter Knapp, during a Twitter pitching event for marginalized creators (Zhao immigrated from China to the U.S. at the age of 18). Her fantasy series, a loose retelling of Anastasia with a diverse cast of characters and a hefty dose of blood magic, sold at auction in a high six-figure deal with Delacorte. And over the course of the past year, Zhao emerged as an active and outspoken participant in the YA community — not just the author of a buzzworthy debut but an enthusiastic, effective communicator who was deeply engaged with issues of diversity and knew how to make herself heard.

“Set out with good intentions,” Zhao wrote in March 2018, in a post advising other writers on how to navigate social media. “Be enthusiastic, be positive, be supportive, cheer people on — all those things you’d want to find in a real-life friend, be those things online and in the writing community, too.”

A scroll through her Twitter history shows that Zhao generally followed her own advice in the year after she sold her book, boosting fellow authors and writing about the issues she faced as part of YA’s nonwhite minority. (In one tweet, she mused: “I’ve been asked several times why I didn’t write a Chinese #ownvoices novel. I don’t want to be boxed into the permanent ‘Other;’ I want diverse books written by PoC to become part of the mainstream.”)

I totally get why some people react to her self-immolation under SJW pressure by saying, in effect, “Serves her right.” But that’s not what we should do. We should be appealing to this young woman and all writers to take a good hard look at how terrible and destructive woke culture is, and to convince them to resoundingly and openly reject it, for the sake of their own art. If Social Justice Warriors can cause Amelie Wen Zhao to commit professional suicide, then it ought to be extremely obvious that that community is insane and malicious and must be ignored.

Here’s the thing: their ideology-driven malice is not a bug; it is at the heart of their way of seeing the world! If you are going to refuse its power as an artist, then you have to refuse all of it. All that garbage about identity politics and artistic creation — refuse it, deny it, fight it. It is the enemy of art, the enemy of creative freedom, the enemy of truth, and the enemy of joy. These SJWs are the …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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America’s Withdrawal From Syria Must Be Total

By Cory Massimino

Despite President Donald Trump’s December withdrawal order, the United States government announced Friday that it’s considering a plan to keep a remote base in southeastern Syria. It seems strange, since exiting the Syrian conflict is Trump’s most sensible foreign policy decision yet. But clearly, top military aides and intelligence officials aren’t yet ready to give up their longstanding—and bloody—approach to the Middle East.

The Syrian civil war has cost over half a million lives and displaced over 10 million more. The U.S.-led intervention there didn’t officially begin until 2014, though the CIA began covertly training and arming Syrian rebels in 2013. Nevertheless, there’s no sign of democracy emerging from the ashes. Why, then, would anyone think America’s involvement is accomplishing anything except more war and death?

To make things look a bit friendlier, the intelligence community is shifting its stated strategy from “humanitarian” intervention to Iranian containment. According to a former U.S. military commander, the base they’re hoping to keep along Syria’s eastern border with Jordan “is a critical element to prevent Iran from establishing a ground line of communications from Iran through Iraq through Syria to southern Lebanon in support of Lebanese Hezbollah.” The al-Tanf base will help the U.S. assert self-defense, as the same commander explained: “When they [Iranian forces] come through, we’ve claimed, I think reasonably, that they’ve been threatening either U.S. forces or partner forces.”

It was bad reasoning that led the U.S. to intervene in Syria in the first place. Back in 2010, Hillary Clinton endorsed secret negotiations between Israel and the Syrian government to end Iran’s sway over Syria. Those talks failed, but when the Arab Spring revolts of 2011 came about in response to Assad’s brutality, the U.S. saw an opportunity to try and “solve” the problem of Iranian influence—through forced regime change cloaked in “humanitarianism.”

What started as a domestic civil war became an international conflict when regional Sunni allies along with Clinton pressured the Obama administration into aiding the anti-Assad efforts through covert CIA operations. This escalated the domestic struggle into a global super-powered proxy war between the U.S., Israel, and their Sunni allies (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar) on the one hand, and Russia and its Shia ally, Iran, on the other. When the covert CIA support began, the anti-Assad Islamic State emerged and extended its influence into the Iraq conflict, tossing a wrench into Obama’s entire Middle East strategy.

Suddenly, the U.S. was funding radical jihadists in Syria in order to help topple Assad, while those same radicals were using U.S. arms against U.S. forces in Iraq. And when Obama launched an air campaign against the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, American involvement became more needlessly intense. Since Trump announced that we were leaving Syria in December, that same air …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Virginia is for infanticide? Abortion bill leaves me shocked by what’s going on in my own state

By Lauren DeBellis Appell Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam and Delegate Kathy Tran both earned the title of most reprehensible elected official this week with their positions on abortion. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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‘The Yellow Vests Noticed ‘

By Rod Dreher

Reader Annie posted a great comment under the St. Stephen’s St. Agnes DC elite prep school post, titled “Give Me My Yellow Vest.” Below, she calls it “St. Alban’s” — an elite boy’s school in DC; Jesse Jackson’s sons Jesse Jr. and Yusef attended there — but she’s also talking about SSSA. I know “Annie” personally, and can vouch that she really did work for the one percent in Washington:

As others have said, there’s been some great posts here recently, but this is the one that strikes me as the most important because it’s what the powerful least want to talk about: there is no workshop called “How St. Alban’s, followed by the Ivy League, secures your lasting and permanent privilege to manage the masses.”

Redbrick points out how much worse it is than pre-1789. He’s right. They teach contempt for the people repairing the bridges when it’s icing or salting the roads at 3 am. We have articles from the big outlets about robot bigotry, cataloging attacks on robots around the country. Silence on the men, women, and families suffering in the 24/7 economy, manning the gas station in exhaustion under lurid lights at 3 am. The entire economy and culture is a destruction of the ability of the majority of people to grow roots, be stewards, have some say over their lives, and build some kind of stability. It is this way because we have never been good at managing input/output. We take from one area and when that dries up the wealthy go take from somewhere else. Silence on the people living in the ruins.

Silence on how the H-1B visas transformed the field of IT, the field that was sold to Americans as a chance to have a middle-class lifestyle as manufacturing plants were shut down. What happened? Nearly 30 years of the H-1B program being used to avoid hiring American workers, crush the wages of the Americans they were employing, the virtual hostage-taking of their American workers by threatening them with unemployment if they protested against the 80-90 hour work weeks demanded of them, and then told they were racists not standing in solidarity with their immigrant co-workers if they had any complaints.

This ruling class is engaged in one of the greatest farces any elite has ever attempted: they preach the saving religion of intersectional self-examination of privilege while being the biggest benefactors of a privilege they zealously guard: the privilege of credentialism. For all their stated concerns about the poor and minorities they preserve a system where monetary wealth and a public platform are beyond the reach of the working and welfare classes. It’s a system where the middle-class door-knockers who attempt access are, more often than not, punished with a lifetime of debt. It’s a system where all the talk of access and free schooling are a joke to make their conscience a little clearer in order to avoid the elephant in the room: not everyone can be the HR manager of Procter …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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