Opinion
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Readers React Letters to the editor and readers' opinions.
Millennials love Snowden? Fine, but he should still stand trial

To the editor: Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is featured on The Times' Op-Ed page as a hero and a whistle-blower, and some people think he will come to be honored for the fact that he disclosed classified information to several media outlets about the surveillance programs of the federal government. ("With millennials gaining influence, surveillance reform is inevitable," op-ed, April 20)

American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero writes of the generational gap in support for Snowden, with most millennials viewing him very positively, indicating that surveillance reform in this country is inevitable.

It may be that Snowden did just what he should have done as a tough-minded American patriot. My take is that he fled our country to avoid accountability for his actions. In my view, this makes him a coward undeserving of praise or even positive attention.

As a country we need to concentrate on minimizing the damage he did to our national...

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Toplessness in Venice: 'Clothing optional' is OK with readers

Venice Beach wants another go at nude sunbathing, a practice forbidden in the city and county of Los Angeles. But judging by the letters to the editor we received, the law might be out of step with the people on this.

The reaction from readers to a Venice Neighborhood Council motion asking to be exempted from local laws on toplessness ranged from accepting shrugs to a few letters saying Venice faces more pressing concerns. Whatever ends up happening, we can take this as a sign that L.A.'s rapidly gentrifying hamlet by the beach will stay weird.

Patricia Mace of Los Angeles recalls a previous time of legalized toplessness:

This article brought back memories of when nude sunbathing was briefly allowed on Venice Beach decades ago.

The people I knew at the time were all for it, but it wasn't long before the male oglers, all fully dressed, outnumbered the sunbathers. Some would even come close to you, fully dressed, and lie down to ogle.

Topless sunbathing is great; I think people should try...

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Washington's failure at fixing school lunches

To the editor: If only politicians knew as much about nutrition as they did about fundraising. The food fight is too political and based more on expected campaign contributions from the giant food suppliers than on science. ("'Lunch lady' lobby joins GOP to fight Obama's school lunch rules," April 22)

The obesity epidemic starts and ends with processed foods, from juices to bread to pasta to chips to any packaged item. Whole wheat does not ordain any health advantage to a processed food. The fiber it offers is insoluble and not the healthful, soluble fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables that our gut utilizes in maintaining the healthy bacteria and regularity we all need.

Michelle Obama, who supports the use of whole-grain pasta, missed the boat on food science.

It is time for our leaders to declare victory in the federal lunch program and prepare to tighten the students' belts. Maybe there should be a lunch voucher program based on the body mass index of the student.

Jerome P. Helman,...

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Paying voters doesn't address the root cause of low turnout

To the editor: Representative democracy is always at risk, but low voter turnout is a symptom, not a cause. ("Vote, and win $25,000: It's a losing idea," editorial, April 21)

Cynicism certainly is a cause, perpetuated by humorists such as Jon Stewart and opinion entertainers such as Rush Limbaugh. It doesn't help when the governor pursues a rail project that he knows nobody would vote for in its present form.

The truth, however, is that local elections are where voters really can make a difference, and the average Joe and Jill really can have influence if they get even minimally involved. Anyone who has ever gotten a stop sign erected or a pothole filled after a call or three to a City Council office can attest to this. Certainly, those seeking local office pound the pavement sufficiently to actually meet many of their potential constituents.

Yet people are, evidently, too lazy to bother to vote — they can program their DVRs remotely so as never to miss a "Game of Thrones" episode, but...

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Blame Sacramento, not LAUSD, for preschool cuts

To the editor: Sandy Banks' article about the woes of the preschool program in the Los Angeles Unified School District never hits on the fundamental reason that the school district is unable to fund it. ("L.A. Unified targets the wrong place to cut: preschool," April 21)

Yes, the LAUSD wasted money on iPads, but that money could never have been spent on the preschool program anyway. It was earmarked for construction and could not have been put into a different budget line.

The problem is California ranks last among all the states in per-pupil educational funding when taking into account regional cost differences, according to Education Week. California spends about $3,000 less per pupil than the national average.

The budgeting statistics should be publicized and the proper demons named: our legislators in Sacramento. That is the story. The Times should start covering it.

Melinda Buterbaugh, Northridge

The writer is a teacher librarian in L.A. Unified.

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To the editor: I agree with Banks...

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Judith Miller did her job badly, sexism or not

To the editor: The Judith Miller "no apologies" book tour is playing up sexism, apparently because her disinformation campaign against her critics has had little success so far, and blaming her faulty reporting before the Iraq war on her "sources." ("Judith Miller: Sexism hindered, and helped, me," op-ed, April 20)

The New York Times, her former employer, never named her as directly responsible for swallowing hook, line and sinker the Bush administration leaks about supposed weapons of mass destruction in the months prior to the Iraq war. It could have, since she wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 28 stories the newspaper says were rushed into print with too little skepticism.

As a former journalist, I have seen far too much sexism in the newsroom, but all of us were on the same footing when it came to blunders. The practice is to apologize and do better in the future.

Perhaps her "no regrets" method will work in her new job as a commentator on Fox News, but to me it shows a disconnect with reality.

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