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Fighting fire from the skies
Re "Winds drive Southland wildfires," Oct. 22
Another year, another terrible fire situation, another season when the authorities will not utilize the Russian IL-76 water bomber, one of the best firefighting airplanes. If you have lost property, have been forced to evacuate or are an injured firefighter, you need to ask the authorities why they continue to refuse to allow this aircraft to assist in combating the conflagrations in California and elsewhere.
Alan Dean Foster
Wouldn't it be common sense for Orange County to designate these canyon areas wildlife refuges and not permit development? Siting million-dollar homes in fire-prone canyons doesn't make a lot of sense. I've lived in the area for 11 years, and I can't remember one year when a canyon somewhere in Southern California hasn't burned, threatening lives and property. Why not restrict development to those areas outside of fire-prone canyons?
Payment for parenthood
Re "Mercenary motherhood," Opinion, Oct.16
As an advocate for relative caregivers and as someone raising two grandchildren, I could not agree more with Mary Callahan. Relative caregivers should receive at least the same public resources as foster parents do, but instead, thousands are struggling to keep their families together. It shouldn't be this way. Studies show that children do better when allowed to stay in their community with their relatives. They're more likely to stay in school and out of jail. So if we do a better job, why are we the ones being punished?
South Los Angeles
Foster parents are not paid to be parents. A mere $600 a month does not come close to meeting the true costs of raising a child. Foster parents -- wonderful individuals who care for the most neglected children in L.A. County -- must go through rigorous training and background checks, meet state licensing requirements, child-proof their homes and put up with constant visits from social workers who check up on the child's welfare. Foster parents are true heroes and are not paid parents at all. Is it not reasonable and responsible for the state and counties to help pay financially for the tremendous emotional outpouring from dedicated, loving foster parents?
Optimist Youth Homes
& Family Services
The wide gap dividing the U.S.
Re "Making peace with ourselves," Opinion, Oct. 21
The "unifier" article by Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz is actually a thinly disgusted case of "let's be reasonable and do it my way." Laudably proclaiming consensus on foreign policy, the authors then indulge in a practice that today accounts for much of the discord. Such statements as "today's political impasse is not just the result of President Bush's misguided war" and "the Bush administration continues to use terrorism as a tool of partisan warfare rather than a cause for bringing the country together" will not cure our discord in foreign affairs. In fact, such partisan self-indulgence represents our national disease. For us to get together on foreign policy, first we must show respect for other people's opinions, even if we do not agree with them.
Republicans wishfully think it is possible to heal the national political rift without giving up policies that have divided us so severely, i.e. the ideology of the unitary executive that has led to usurping the power of Congress and violations of the Constitution, or the free-trade globalization scheme that is undermining the nation's sovereignty and destroying the economic base for our democratic republic. Republicans are going to have to admit they are wrong. What is needed is FDR-style leadership that calls for an abrupt halt to the above and substitutes peaceful redevelopment for the U.S. together with cooperative developmental assistance to the rest of the world. Nothing the Republicans have shown us holds any hope for our existence as a nation or promises anything but continued world conflict, misery, poverty and death.
More time needed for Adventure
Re "Disney to fix a major misstep," Oct. 17
I have never understood the vitriol directed at California Adventure. Sure, classic Disneyland is iconic and may never be topped, but its sister park distinguished itself as a complementary yet separate theme-park experience. The newer park actually seems larger and cleaner. The rides, surely Soarin' Over California and Grizzly River Run, compare favorably to Space Mountain and the Matterhorn; and you only waste half the time waiting in long lines to ride them. But there's a simple reason Disneyland continues to sell more tickets: longer hours. If Disney wants to level the playing field, why not keep the same hours at both parks?
Paul Robert Coyle
Hung up over phone tax vote
Re "Council places phone tax on ballot," Oct. 17
The only emergency would appear to be the wish to decrease the percentage needed for passing the phone tax from two-thirds to a simple majority. This brings to mind a sign in my office: "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine."
Arthur A. Fleisher II
But they will find your shampoo
Re "Screeners at LAX miss 75% of 'bombs,' " Oct. 19
The widespread failure of security screeners to detect increasingly sophisticated efforts to smuggle fake bomb parts merely points out that absolute air travel security is an unattainable goal.
With this realization, maybe we should rethink the mind-boggling economic expenditure we make in trying to do so, diverting some of those resources to alleviate other life-threatening problems, such as drunk driving, childhood poverty and other social malaises that kill thousands of people every year.
I don't know about LAX, but the Transportation Security Administration folks at Burbank Airport detected my toothpaste and aloe vera gel right away.
I feel so secure.
Little things about the Nokia Theatre
Re "L.A. theater's effect an open question," Oct. 19
I welcome the opening of the Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live, but I am perplexed by the coverage in The Times, in almost all local media and in marketing materials for the venues.
With traffic congestion literally getting worse every day, it's a shame that their close proximity to the Metro Blue Line is not just applauded but shouted from the rooftops.
By simply including this important information, more people will likely get out of their cars and onto the Metro.
On opening night, I attended the Dixie Chicks/Eagles concert at the new Nokia Theatre. The facility is beautiful and the acoustics are excellent, but a couple of major problems have yet to resolved. On opening night, the temperature was uncomfortably warm in the mezzanine, and the concession stand sold out of many food items well before the show had begun. I hope these issues will be addressed immediately.
Who is the language editor of the California section? While Saturday's story ("Scholars try to reconcile 'problematic' religious texts") extolled attempts to reconcile problematic texts in three major religions, another story in the same section ("Upgrades ease freeway traffic woes in Valley") announced that the new 405/101 freeway interchange was "christened." Does that mean that Hindus, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians will have to find their own hallowed shortcuts?
Hebrew Union College
Glass is too big
Re "The glass is still half full," editorial, Oct. 17
The glass is neither half full nor half empty. It is too big. There should be a moratorium on new construction until a system can be implemented that matches further development with conservation or new water sources.
Merit vs. money
Re "Mr. Shanker's lesson," Opinion, Oct. 21
We, as taxpayers, teachers, students and parents, need to be wary of any merit program based on monetary incentives. If experience is any indicator, the money for merit pay will probably come out of school district coffers. Any money given at all by the federal government will likely be far less than necessary to cover the expenses. Think back. Have the districts in our state been fully reimbursed for the special education laws enacted in the 1970s? Any added expense will force districts to chip away at their current resources. Then we teachers will look back fondly on the days when we only had 36 students in our classes.