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Letters to the editor

Focus on Blagojevich

Re “Senators call appointment unwelcome,” Dec. 31

Isn't Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris less scandalous than Richard Nixon's appointment of Gerald Ford as vice president?

In the latter case, we had a president clearly in trouble appointing his successor. In this case, we have a boneheaded governor showing that he, foolishly or not, has guts.

I think the appointment should be weighed on its merits. Let all of the outrage be focused on simply removing Blagojevich from office because, honestly, that is the real engine behind this fury.

Vince Jordan

Los Angeles

'Disheartening reality'

Re “Aim for a better cease-fire,” editorial, Dec. 30

The concept of a "disproportionate" response is a peculiar one. How do we gauge that? Does a proportionate response require a declaration of war? Does it require exact numbers in retaliation? Because Japan didn't declare war on us when it attacked Pearl Harbor, should we have only destroyed the same number of ships and planes and killed the same number of Japanese troops?

When a country is attacked, and attacked repeatedly, it has the duty and the obligation to protect its citizens. And the only way to protect its citizens is to put a complete end to the threat.

Incidentally, why does the subject of "disproportionate" response only come up with regard to Israel?

Emanuel R. Baker

Los Angeles

::

It's amazing to me that we keep hearing of Israel's right to defend itself when it has total control of Gaza, exercises absolute might, has stripped all dignity from the people, destroys homes and prevents free movement throughout the territory.

The Times is misjudging the situation if it believes that the Bush administration is only "placing blame where it belongs." Is there anything Israel can't do? And is there anything that the civilized world will do to stop this madness? Will we allow the obliteration of the Palestinians if they refuse to say that Israel has a right to exist?

Nothing the Palestinians do should surprise us in light of these conditions.

Ralph Mitchell

Monterey Park

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You failed to mention in your editorial that Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip when the cease-fire was in effect. Repeated attempts to persuade Israel to lift the blockade have failed. Only limited amounts of food were allowed into the Gaza Strip.

It is for this reason that the cease-fire did not hold. In order to ensure a more reliable cease-fire, Gaza's borders have to be opened and the Palestinians should have the right to free movement and to live a decent life.

John Youssef

Woodland Hills

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You state that since the collapse of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, residents of southern Israel have been terrorized by cross-border rocket attacks. But Hamas and other terror organizations operating out of Gaza have been firing rockets at Israel regularly since 2001. Though the so-called cease-fire saw a reduction in rocket fire, it is important to note that during that six-month period, more than 300 Hamas-fired projectiles still landed in Israel.

So, while you state that Israel should consider another cease-fire a victory, I would argue from recent events that Hamas can't be trusted to keep its end of the bargain.

Josh Hasten

Jerusalem

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Re “Arabs across Mideast protest airstrikes,” Dec. 28

The article provides insight into the disheartening reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Protests across the Arab world speak to sentiments of mistrust between Israel and its neighbors -- as well as the deepening chasm between many of the region's rulers and their publics.

The violence between Hamas and the Israeli government underscores the hard choices that the incoming U.S. administration will face in its attempts to foster a climate that can bring about a comprehensive and evenhanded peace between Israelis and Palestinians, who both harbor legitimate national and existential aspirations.

How will Barack Obama simultaneously counter the perception that the U.S. is indifferent to Palestinian grievances and preserve America's special relationship with Israel? Can he help bring substantive change and genuine hope into a conflict that is in desperate need of both?

Jehred Luis Reyes

Fontana

The hope of the state GOP

Re “GOP leader holds on to hope in a gloomy year,” Dec. 29

The California Republican Party is not dead. The conservative Republican Party of Mike Spence is dying because it's been poorly managed and has no plan that deals with updating the state's social and economic model based on current reality. It continues to live in the past.

The new Republican Party will be successful when it gets new leadership that represents all the segments of our population, has a plan that realistically addresses the state's dysfunctional government and infrastructure, and can clearly communicate both the negative financial and social services effects of what's currently going on -- and the necessary steps to correct the mess we're in.

Robert M. Green

San Dimas

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It is unfortunate that Spence believes following on the trail of Proposition 8 will spark a Republican revolution.

We need to understand the demographics of our state. Yes, social conservatism is popular with minority communities that Spence wants to bring into the Republican coalition. But fiscal conservatism is not.

If Spence feels that cultural issues are more important than economic issues in the Republican Party, he should go to Washington and endorse the amnesty programs that John McCain and Edward Kennedy are advocating. That would attract more Latinos into the fold.

As Republicans, we need to unite people in our state while staying true to our principles. Our party cannot rely on just older white voters and the religious. We have to reach out to young voters, moderates and even gay voters. If we do, we can make Sacramento work for the better.

Matt Munson

Ontario

Poison in the prison water

Re “Drink up — assuming you like arsenic, that is,” Dec. 29

Poisoning prisoners with drinking water laden with arsenic is unconscionable, inhumane and, considering the potential deferred health costs and civil liability, economic suicide for the state.

Worse perhaps is selective poisoning by gender. At the California Institution for Women in Chino, the state spends $480,000 a year for bottled water, while at the nearby California Institution for Men, inmates drink contaminated water.

Not only should all prisoners, and staff if applicable, be given non-poisonous water, but the attorney general should investigate the contract or contracts for the $480,000, which smell of poisonous cronyism.

Harry Crouch

San Diego

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How is it that we incarcerate criminals in an institution that itself breaks the law?

By providing inmates with water containing arsenic in excess of 10 parts per billion, the Kern Valley State Prison is violating federal and state law.

Furthermore, Dr. Sherry Lopez's statement that this is a regulatory and not a health issue reflects either disregard for a serious health threat or extreme ignorance. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that there is no safe level of arsenic in drinking water. The 10 ppb arsenic standard is a legal compromise because drinking water standards are based on cost and technical considerations, along with health effects.

Water systems that do not meet the standard are supposed to be held accountable under the law.

It would be an extreme injustice if the prison system continues to provide a dangerous water supply to the people in its charge.

Andria Ventura

San Francisco

The writer is a program manager at Clean Water Action.

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