Rumors About LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Potential Role In The Biden Administration

Suffice it to say, our city has been through a lot over the past few years. Many immigrants live in Los Angeles and the surrounding cities of California — so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that our people aren’t exactly divided on Biden’s 2020 victory. We’re happy. We think everyone should be happy. I say this as a “visitor” myself (even though I’ve been here many years at this point and have learned the language and customs fairly well, no matter how different they are from my own back home in France).

Black Lives Matter didn’t take well to the rumor that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti might play a role in the upcoming Biden administration. The rumors suggest that he might be offered a fairly important role as Secretary of Transportation or Housing and Urban Development. 

Garcetti denied that he was “seeking” any such role in Biden’s Cabinet, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t take one if it was offered.

Garcetti said, “I have been focused 110% on these numbers and on COVID and on saving lives. It’s one of the last things on my mind right now. You know, we have deaths that are going to be increasing, we have record numbers of cases and so I don’t have anything to add on that not because I have anything to hide, I just have nothing to add. Right now my job number one is to make sure to protect the lives of Angelenos.”

BLM wasn’t unhappy about the possibility that Garcetti might be leaving, however. The protestors were lamenting the fact that he’s allegedly done a poor job of organizing housing and development in our own city, especially when it comes to providing it to the homeless. Transportation is another huge issue — ask any Angeleno — and he’s done very little to remedy the situation.

The mayor of LA has always been an important position because it can have an impact on all of Southern California. Much like the United States is supposed to “lead” the world in many areas, so too does Los Angeles lead the rest of our state. Garcetti has failed in that regard.

Garcetti isn’t the only potential pick from Southern California. Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas is also rooted in Los Angeles. His family was originally from Cuba before they fled to the states. Mayorkas went to Beverly Hills High before studying at Loyola Marymount Law School. He served as U.S. Attorney in Central California, and has held a number of other important positions during his tenure.

What does this all have to do with my life? For me, it’s interesting to say that these potential picks for roles in higher government inspire some pride — even though I’m not originally from Los Angeles. I think that means this is finally home. The funny thing? I always thought my life here would be temporary. I thought I’d go back home eventually. Now, I don’t feel that way.

My Thoughts On Terrorism In France

The last week has been hard on me. On one hand, I know I’m safe here in the United States — or at least safer than I would be anywhere in Europe. But on the other hand, I have to worry about family and friends I have back home. Terrorism in France isn’t going away no matter how hard we try to fight against injustice and violence and open our hearts to free speech and differing opinions. Why would anyone be against it? I don’t know.

What I find especially disconcerting, though, is the fact that a person can be beheaded anywhere in the civilized, industrialized world, and we barely see it in the news — if at all — because we’re too focused on what crazy President Trump said or did today. 

But it’s also a problem for the Islamic community. I believe there’s nothing wrong with being a devout or practicing Muslim, just like I believe there’s nothing wrong with being Christian, Jewish, or Hindu; like I believe there’s nothing wrong with being old or young, gay or straight, rich or poor, pro-life or pro-choice, Texan or California, French or Hispanic. What does any of that matter? We all come from the same place. We all start off the same way — until our leaders change us beyond the point of no return.

That’s exactly why free speech is so important. When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I was only a French girl with broken English — but my friends embraced me and helped me until I learned. Look at me now!

We live in a world where anything is possible, but that shouldn’t depend on where you live. The recent debate in France was sparked by a horrendous terrorist act, but that shouldn’t mean we give up on hope or humanity or our rights and freedoms. We need to do better. Before that, we should start to think better!

COVID-19 In Los Angeles

These are trying times for me — I’ve been constantly wrestling with the idea of staying or going back home to France because I have elderly family who could use some help. But travel during a coronavirus pandemic is scary! And President Trump downplaying the virus has led to a lot of controversy over a subject that shouldn’t be all that controversial. To make matters worse, he failed to give us federal aid for the wildfire emergencies, suggesting it was all our fault.

It seems like I’ve suffered a devastating brain injury California from which there is no recovery. And things are only getting worse, it seems. Case counts are on the rise but officials are bent on loosening restrictions on businesses where people seem to get sick most often. I’m all for reopening Disney as soon as possible, but it should be done with everyone’s safety in mind. Not everyone agrees with me.

A big Disney fan, Dusty Sage, mentioned the restrictions to the local news: “I think it was the worst possible, sort of, outcome for disney. There were signs this was coming. Disney has been at odds with the state, but this is certainly terrible news for the entire economy of Anaheim and for Disney.”

Is one enormous company really so important that we need to put people’s lives at stake?

The issue appears that Anaheim’s economy is 50 percent whatever is generated by Disneyland. Officials in the surrounding areas are even worried that smaller parks will have to close down. Disney is rich enough to weather the storm. 

Los Angeles has allowed certain schools to reopen by waiver — and all of them are private schools. Public schools are mostly conducted over video chat and electronically.

It’s hard to blame those people who want to reopen the city. But we’ve made so much progress and we don’t want to reverse it! The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said there were only 13 deaths last weekend and only 358 new cases. That makes the total number of cases in LA County 288,451 as of last weekend, but that also represents nearly 1,000 hospitalizations — and also nearly a third of the total capacity for the ICU, which handles most coronavirus cases that get serious. If it gets overtaxed, then people suffering from other ailments mind find it difficult to find the help they need!

These numbers mean that the burden on our healthcare system is diminishing, but reducing restrictions could open the floodgates again. Cases are “surging” in France too, which makes me wonder what I should do. Traveling home means putting myself at risk on a stuffy airplane, and that would put anyone I meet at risk too. There is a new curfew in place because of the increase in cases. I’m worried that it will just keep getting worse and worse until the decision is taken out of my hands. What should I do?

Violence In Los Angeles Made Me Ask Myself If I Should Stay

When one travels to the United States, one visualizes the motto “land of the free” and what it means to the people who reside there. The international community does this often, especially in regard to the U.S. more so than any other country. It might surprise some of my readers to know that we’ve long suspected the tensions in the U.S. could culminate in a race war. These events that you thought you would never live to see in your own country? They were predicted long ago — by almost everyone else.

And it’s these events that keep me questioning whether or not I should extend my visa and continue to live and work here. Los Angeles is a fun city. The people here are forward thinking. That even in such a liberal bastion the police force could be inspired to become violent with protesters — the majority of whom have been entirely peaceful — is awe-inspiring in the most horrific way imaginable. 

What were they thinking?

Brutality — or “domination” as the American president calls it — is only certain to escalate tensions further and further. The superiors of the four police officers (you know who) know this for a fact. Otherwise they would not have arrested and charged four of their own.

Truth be told, it isn’t just this escalation in racial tensions that has me thinking of leaving this country that has been my home for years now. It’s the near-certainty that the next 12 months will prove even more chaotic. Can you imagine what Trump will do if he loses the election? I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a concession speech or a peaceful transition of power, both standards in American government. Can you imagine what will happen if he wins? His blindly loyal followers will once again jump on their high horses to assert their “rightness.”

I’m not sure I want to be around to see either of these two paths play out.

What It’s Like In Los Angeles During The Coronavirus Outbreak

My family in France is hurting. My home country has closed its borders — which are always open because of its place in the European Union — but that isn’t all. My mother requires a form to leave home! She isn’t allowed to go outside to visit family or friends. Over 100,000 police officers have been deployed to keep order as tens of thousands have been diagnosed with covid-19. The country is basically closed down for business.

But it’s not what’s happening over there that has me worried!

It’s what’s happening over here in my home away from home — and how little we’re doing to prevent the spread of this virus compared to other countries where it’s already blown up. Sure, it might sound like the United States is taking drastic action. Local governments have advised against large gatherings. They’ve asked people to hunker down. Bars and clubs have closed. Restaurants, too. Schools are cancelling class. Colleges are kicking kids out of their dorms.

But this isn’t enough! The very possibility of a national shutdown terrifies people here. Maybe it’s the cultural differences between us, but the possibility of not shutting down is what terrifies me. The mayor of New York City has said he has no interest in quarantining the city.

The disparity between people who take this crisis too seriously and those who don’t take it seriously enough is widening. But those who take it too seriously will soon be transformed into those who were taking it just seriously enough the whole time.

What do I mean, you ask?

Take the Spanish flu of 1918 for example. It had a fatality rate of around 2.5 percent. Seasonal flu falls at .1 percent. Covid-19 falls closer to the Spanish flu at around 2.0 percent. The reproduction rate of these illnesses help us determine how contagious they are. Seasonal flu falls at 1.3, which means an infected person might be expected to infect slightly more than one person on average. Spanish flu was 1.8. Covid-19 is a whopping 2.3.

Don’t forget: Spanish flu killed up to 50 million people when the world’s population was only 1.9 billion. Because covid-19 has so much more in common with the Spanish flu than the seasonal flu, you might imagine how many people would die in a world of 7.8 billion souls if we didn’t take drastic actions.

Spanish flu hit in the midst of WWI — a war in which my great grandfather fought and died, not in combat, but from respiratory sickness! We couldn’t do anything then. But we can do something now. And we’re failing to do it. 

Here’s What I Think About Jeff Bezos’s Announcement

Did you hear the big news? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he will invest $10 billion toward fighting climate change. We don’t know a whole lot about how that will work, but he says he wants to fund anyone who can help. That means the money will probably go to building new technologies that can pull carbon from our atmosphere or get humans off their coal and oil addiction faster.

He wrote on Instagram: “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals.”

I think this is great.

And I’ve been paying more attention to Bezos. He’s been in hot water because human rights activists hold him responsible for the working conditions in Amazon warehouses. They don’t believe workers are paid enough, and I agree. There are also ongoing concerns about the company’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence employees who want to shed light on sexual harassment complaints.

But Bezos is also a champion of new technologies that could bring humans closer together and make life better for all of us. Do I believe he should be held accountable for the problems within the companies he built? Definitely! But I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. $10 billion can do a lot of good, and hopefully other super-wealthy individuals and organizations will follow his lead to step forward and contribute.

Bezos owns the company Blue Origin. He wants to get humans out into space. He wants us to move our commercial endeavors off-planet, which should in turn move our polluting factories off-planet as well. That’s a great goal! I can only hope to see it made into a reality in my lifetime.  I miss France sometimes, but a big part of me is proud to live in a company where such big things happen everyday.

Still, Amazon still collaborates with coal and oil companies for business purposes. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said, “As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves. We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.”

Here’s What I Think You Should Know About Moving To France

Many of my friends have told me how wonderful they think it would be to move to France with me if I ever go back. But they second-guess when I explain how difficult it was for me moving here. America is a lot different than France in ways nobody imagines before they come here. I certainly didn’t. But culture shock affects us subtly more than anything else, and anyone considering a move to beautiful France should know a few things first.

First of all, Paris is not France, and most French citizens wish you would stop seeing it that way. They don’t represent us. They’re different. They’re different in the same way that Americans would hate to think that a tourist sees New Yorkers or Los Angeleans representative of the rest of them. Obviously, they don’t. You shouldn’t make the same mistake. Where you decide to settle down in France will determine the kind of people you’re around — just like in America.

Just like immigrants coming to America need a green card or visa, you need one to move to France. Don’t just show up there because you’ll get sent back in a hurry.

Finding work in France will be difficult unless you have a needed skill. Many of those who travel to France will find work teaching English. 

Unless there are other circumstances, it will take you five years before you can apply for citizenship.

Your credit card won’t always work, especially if it hasn’t been chipped. You’ll probably still be able to eat out.

On the plus side, Americans apparently don’t have to pay double taxes when living in France. That’s because of treaties written long ago.

French law dictates that foreign-born residents must apply for a French driver’s license within one year. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have a specific agreement with France to make it easier to obtain a French license. It comes down to what state you’re from. Californians, for example, can’t just bounce over to France and obtain a French permit. No, no, no.

Most United States drivers hate roundabouts, but they’re common in Europe. You might want to learn before you go. More importantly, you’d better have cash on hand if you’re on a toll road, because foreign credit cards will not always work. 

France is similar to the United States in that it’s difficult to rent without sufficient proof of equally sufficient income. In general, you’ll need a job that guarantees at least three times the amount of rent. Can’t make that much? Find someone who’s willing to take responsibility and sign as a “guarantor.” That might work, but not always. Lessors are always hesitant to rent out to foreigners.

These Wildfires Are Getting Crazy!

This year there were wildfires raging across the state of California. Some of them I could see from my backyard! We can probably all agree that the fires are terrible. But it’s hard not to think they have a sort of mystical, other-wordly quality when they put everything else into perspective. Even when you live in such a large city with lots of sprawl, you’re in danger from one of Mother Nature’s outbursts. 

I started reading about why they occur so often, what the consequences are if they aren’t stopped, and how we might go about preventing more of them from breaking out in the first place. What surprised me is that all the answers go way beyond global man-made climate change — although that is largely believed to be a major component as well.

Power lines are one of the contributing factors. Many of the fires have ignited because downed power lines hit a patch of dry brush. That’s why power companies were shutting down power to many households across the northern portion of the state. But that can’t be the best option, can it?

California Governor Gavin Newsom is putting together a team of energy experts to find a better way. They started at the very beginning: infrastructure needs to be updated to make power lines safer. They would order inspections in high-risk areas to find out where the lines could use repairing.

And then there were the mandatory power outages. They weren’t controversial because they occurred at all. They were controversial because the implementation was so horrible, even though some companies have been successfully doing the same thing for years and years. San Diego Gas & Electric only cut power to about 400 customers because it had already invested in more modern technologies decades ago.

Another reason wildfires are so common is because we’re so “good” at “fighting fire.” The concept of fighting fire didn’t exist at all until a forest fire enveloped a town and killed a bunch of people over a century ago. When officials implemented new fire prevention methods, they began to fine people who were using prescribed burns to control and reduce dry brush. Turns out, prescribed burns worked pretty well. Because they were made illegal, wildfires where they had been used became much more common.

In the many decades since those laws were first implemented, fires have become worse and worse. And yeah, of course part of the problem is climate change. But the bigger part of the problem is how we try to prevent them in the first place. Sometimes you need a fire to reset an area of growth and prevent a larger fire sometime later. That’s the way the Native Americans had been doing it for hundreds of years!

Porto’s Is My Favorite Place To Eat (Obviously)

Never been? You should go as soon as possible. This family owned chain of bakeries/restaurants has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted (outside of France, of course). They have locations in Burbank, Glendale, Buena Park, Downey and West Covina — but as I just learned, they will send you their products so you can bake from home. And it’s that service that has changed what (and how) I eat every single night.

The service is simple enough, and it’s too bad more restaurants and eateries don’t offer the same.

Basically, the staff will put together some of your favorite pastries into a small, medium, or large box depending on how many of each item you order, and then send the pastries to your doorstep still frozen. You remove them from the box, put them in the oven, and then feast. I’ve become particularly accustomed to using Porto’s baked goods whenever friends or family come to visit. They’re perfect for a game night.

You can order potato balls, meat pies, chicken empanadas, cheese rolls, or something sweeter like chocolate chip cookies, sprinkledoodle cookies, guava and cheese strudel, dulce de leche besito cookies, and more. All of these goods are so so so delicious.

I was so enamored with the food that I wanted to know more about how Porto’s got started. It turns out it was all because of one woman’s love for baking for family and friends — Rosa Porto, a Cuban native who eventually found her way to the United States. She learned to bake from her mother’s recipes, who had arrived in Cuba from Spain. Rosa learned to love cooking early on, especially because of the smells that normally went in and out of their kitchen.

Then the Porto family decided they wanted to flee Cuban communism. When the authorities caught on to what they were trying to do, Rosa’s father was sent to a labor camp while the women were fired from their jobs. Rosa began baking for neighbors, unwittingly gaining a reputation for great food in the process. It was that reputation, perhaps, that allowed the Porto family to finally emigrate to the United States.

After a long hard struggle that started with nothing but the shirts on their backs, Rosa opened her first bakery in Echo Park, which quickly become an unlikely success story. Today, Rosa’s children and grandchildren oversee a group of chefs, all of whom help make the bakeries one of the best places to eat in the Los Angeles area. Good for Rosa, who is currently enjoying retirement!

I Want You To Take Part In A Climate Change Protest If You Can

It’s both exciting and scary to be living on this world at this point in time! We have hundreds of obstacles ahead of us, but we also know how to avoid or overcome those obstacles if we spend our resources wisely. Since being in Los Angeles I’ve learned how to spend my own resources as wisely as I can. I’ve also learned a great deal about man-made climate change — not necessarily because I live here now, but because protests have increased in number all over the globe.

In particular, the Extinction Rebellion has conducted a number of non-violent acts of civil disobedience this year. They will continue to do so as long as politicians continue to turn a blind eye to man’s contributions to catastrophic climate change. Many British and French activists are preparing for a new round of protests.

In Los Angeles, activists shut down Sunset Boulevard in September. Similar acts of disobedience occurred all over the world. 

In Britain, the authorities are trying to gain greater power in trying to “quell” the rebellion. They have said they will arrest anyone and everyone who participates in these acts of civil disobedience, no matter the cost. The Home Office is reviewing new laws that would effectively ban those who break the law repeatedly from continuing to protest.

A man named Mr. Ephgrave said, “If we have people who are habitually protesting unlawfully, it would be helpful to have the ability of preventing them. The legislation around public order was drafted in a different era and it’s not particularly helpful because it wasn’t designed for what we’re dealing with now.”

Even though members of Parliament responded to one round of protests by finally defining climate change as a crisis that requires urgent and groundbreaking change, others are trying to shut down activists’ ability to foment that change.

That’s why I want you to get out on the streets during the next round of protests on October 7, 2019. Starting at 10 am, protesters will be taking to the streets for another round of non-violent civil disobedience across the globe. Find out where the fight is happening closest to you and get out there to make your voices heard!

If you’re one of those people who “just don’t know” about climate change, then please take some time to do some actual research instead of watching the news (which can be flooded with misinformation at times). Regardless of whether or not you’ve heard otherwise, this is a fight that we need to win immediately — we’re running out of time to save our planet.