Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Last will or not: No dog should be killed to be buried with its owner

An Indiana woman who died in her home in late November left behind a will and her beloved 9-year old male German Shepherd named Bela. Connie Ley’s death is sad, but what’s mortifying was her will — it stipulates that her dog be euthanized if a specific friend or animal sanctuary doesn’t take the pet. Animal lovers have taken to social media to voice their outrage, and the case has made news far beyond the boundaries of Ley’s home near the small town of Aurora. But the will, her lawyer has said, is perfectly legal.

In this case, the friend that Ley picked doesn’t want the dog. (OK, note to pet owners everywhere: If you’re going to put someone in your will as caretaker of your animal, check with the person first. I’m named in a will as the potential caretaker of two cats., but their humans told me about it.) Ley also named Best Friends Animal Society — the national animal welfare group, which runs a large no-kill sanctuary in Utah — as a place where Bela can go, but she put aside no...

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A former Sony executive responds: 'This is not Sony's fight to win'

The L.A. Times' editorial board expressed dismay Thursday at the fact that hackers had effectively censored Sony Pictures' "The Interview" by threatening to attack theaters showing it. "The terrorists won this round," the board wrote, urging Sony to release the film widely through online and pay-TV video-on-demand services.

The editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal were more sharp-tongued, as per their custom. "Capitulating to the threats of North Korea’s department of global propaganda -- and the U.S. government now believes Pyongyang was behind the Sony attack -- will not be remembered as a profile in Hollywood courage, and will set a precedent for further bullying of a notably weak-kneed industry," they intoned.

The denunciations were echoed by actors, filmmakers and politicians, who blasted Sony for capitulating to crackpots.

That's easy for us opinionistas to say, but such finger-wagging ignores the reality of the situation Sony found itself in, wrote Mitch Singer, the...

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Reactions to the Cuba thaw: Will this change matter?

President Obama's announcement Wednesday that the U.S. would resume diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than a half-century is, indeed, a historic event. It's also something of an afterthought to the Cold War, which has been history itself for more than two decades now.

So how has Obama's decision to end one of the U.S. government's most stubborn international positions played with the nation's opinionators? Our editorial board approved the move as long overdue and reflecting a changed world and changed political dynamics. Some other pages agreed with us; others did not.

The New York Times welcomed the move as, among other things, a recognition of the changed world in which we live. The paper also singled out Fidel Castro's brother, who now runs the regime and has overseen a softening of economic policies, for praise:

"Cuba’s president, Raúl Castro, deserves credit for his pragmatism. While Cuba remains a repressive police state with a failed economy, under his leadership since...

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L.A.'s cyclists should need a special 'info' license in order to ride

In June 2009, just as L.A.’s bicycling resurgence was beginning, the city of Los Angeles repealed its law requiring cyclists get licenses.

Bad move.

Before you go hollering bloody murder about "big gubmint" (and me), read on.

With the throngs of two-wheeled commuters, green believers and just-for-fun bicyclists in the streets, with new bike lanes already here and maybe new bike laws coming, the city needs a way to educate these riders.

An "info license" could be the way to do it.

It wouldn’t be a permit to ride a bike. It wouldn't require a test, and it wouldn't help police track your bike if it got stolen. (The previous license law was repealed in part because bicyclists complained that police hassled them if they didn’t have a license but didn’t lift a finger when a bike was stolen. And sometimes, says la.streetsblog.org, LAPD divisions didn’t even have enough license forms on hand when people showed up to buy them.)

An info license would be all about information, and making sure it...

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Cost of building California bullet train's next chunk? $1,234,567,890

The proposals are in and the contractors expected to build the next segment of California’s bullet train are a consortium led by Dragados USA Inc., a subsidiary of a Spanish construction firm. The group had the highest technical competence score and the lowest price, and was determined to be the “apparent best value,” according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

But the price offered by Dragados is either meant to be amusing or unusually specific. The consortium bid was $1,234,567,890.

Is that a joke? Authority staff said no. It’s an official bid that will likely become the binding price point after the authority’s board approves the contract in January.

It may not be a joke, but it was certainly silly for the construction companies to set such a price when the public is already incredibly skeptical of the bullet train cost projections. Why not bid $1,111,111,111?

This is a project, after all, that was supposed to cost $33 billion when it was approved by voters in 2008 but is...

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A dad's advice for what to tell your kids when they ask if Santa's real

In today’s installment of “op-eds from Christmas past,” we revisit Josef Anderson’s 2012 op-ed, “Santa's last, best gift.” In it, the dad of two young girls struggled with what to say when his eldest asked the inevitable question: Is Santa real?

'Don't worry if it's expensive," I overheard my 8-year-old tell her 5-year-old sister the other night. "Santa makes all this stuff at the North Pole. Mom and Dad don't have to buy it."

My daughters were seated at the dining table, cutting pictures out of a stack of toy catalogs. They had been busy for half an hour, clipping and pasting. They had informed my wife and me they planned to mail a scrapbook presentation to Santa this year. In the post-literate era, why waste time using words when you can send a picture? That way there's no mistaking your glossy desires.

I saw the skeletons of catalogs spread out before them. They had snipped holes in nearly every page. I looked at the growing stack of wishes and suggested that they might want to...

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