And the homeless?
The Times' two long articles on the new Civic Center Park downtown did a great job of discussing many aspects of the project but refrained from mentioning one: its interaction with the single most powerful visual and emotional aspect of downtown L.A. -- the very large population of homeless people.
Thanks. I don't like thinking of them either.
Douglas K. Fenwick
It would be better if former Vice President Dick Cheney and his colleagues would keep their wearisome diatribes muted to allow time for President Obama to get his policies underway.
The president will not please everyone -- this writer included -- but to listen to this continual and painful spineless whimpering from disgraced Republicans is insufferable.
The country is where it is because of their infected vision. The time for the courage to try a different course is upon us.
Reporting on Cheney's recent assessment of Obama's policies, The Times writes, "Cheney has sharply questioned Obama before, but the latest attempt comes amid a chorus of Republican criticism that nonetheless has had little effect on Obama's popularity or his success in Congress."
I could not disagree with this statement more. Republican criticism of Obama has had a great effect on me and the millions of Americans who tired of the Bush-Cheney White House years ago.
The more these Republicans complain about Obama, the more my support for the president and his policies intensifies.
What delicious irony.
Communist China holds "roughly $1 trillion of U.S. Treasury and other government-backed bonds."
So the worried banker to our proudly rich and powerful capitalist country is a communist country we not so long ago would have nothing to do with, and sought in various ways to rid the world of. And we're dearly hoping China will continue to bail us out of our self-inflicted dire straits. Who was it who said capitalism would dig its own grave?
Put Waters front and center
The Times buried the article on the questionable actions of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). Would you prefer not to have your readers learn of the congresswoman's efforts to help a bank in which her husband held a substantial interest?
Waters deserves to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Was she protecting her nest egg?
And if there is an investigation, will The Times put it on Page One?
Memories of busing
Erin Aubry Kaplan's Op-Ed article brought back memories of when my husband and I lived in Westchester and helped start a busing project.
At that time, the airport was expanding and taking over residential areas, so we had schools with nearly empty classrooms. But just to the east of Westchester, many schoolchildren were on double sessions. Most of them were African American, and their parents felt they would get a better education in all-day schools.
The schools in Westchester were all-white. A group of parents from Westchester joined a group of parents from the double-session schools and funded a busing project for a year until the Board of Education took over.
I am saddened by Kaplan's account of her treatment by schoolmates in Westchester. It was the beginning of an effort to combat racism and to offer a better education to children who were on double sessions. I wish the results had been more positive. Although restrictive covenants are no longer enforced in Westchester, the results of discrimination are still alive and well.
Jean Holt Koch
I too was bused from South-Central to a predominantly white school, starting in my last years of elementary school.
When I and my fellow students first arrived at Topanga Elementary School, there was a large group of white adults holding signs and yelling. I was young and thought they were happy to see us. Much later on, I realized that these people did not want us going to school with their children.
The first year was a learning experience, but once we all -- black and white students -- realized that there wasn't much to the stereotypes we saw on TV or heard from our parents, we got along pretty well.
At Nobel Middle School, I became friends with white kids as well as black kids. We had dances together, pep rallies, you name it -- without all the baggage. High school was the same: no real incidents of racial problems.
Caution on clinical trials
The Times' article misses a key point: There are too many clinical trials.
As a biomedical research administrator, I know that many incentives for clinical trials are institutional, not scientific. Organizations are often evaluated on the number of trials they perform, clinical faculty must conduct trials to be promoted, and donors are more likely to contribute if a discovery is tested on patients rather than going through years of (necessary) study in fruit flies or mice.
The genetic revolution of the 1990s brought great hope for new cures. But much like opening a set of Russian nesting dolls, this revolution revealed new complexity. It is time for the biomedical research system to adjust to reality and focus on long-term scientific research, rather than rush therapies into premature and expensive clinical trials.
Were I a patient with cancer or a degenerative neurological condition, I probably would not sign up for a clinical trial. Most require a double-blind technique in which a control group receives no therapy, apart from the basic standard and saline or sugar pills.
After 60 years as a physician, I'm all for clinical research. But were I afflicted with a serious illness, I'd want my oncologist to go for broke.
What's more, some dubious clinics use "clinical research" as a means of trolling for patients. Their clinical research is largely unregulated, and I wonder if they are more dedicated to volume and remuneration than valid clinical data.
Clinical research can be a jungle, requiring the guidance of a trusted, ethical physician. The patient with a serious disease needs be wary.
Roy L. Byrnes MD
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