Opinion: In today’s pages: Proposition 1B, juvenile injustice and torture


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Continuing its series of editorials parsing the six measures on the May 19 ballot, the Times looks at Proposition 1B, a measure intended to restore $9.3 billion to public schools and community colleges. But it finds more cons than pros and opposes 1B. It’s main beef is that the measure also could force the state to increase its funding guarantees in the long term. That would require increased spending regardless of the state of California’s finances

The board, however, throws its support behind SB 399, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) that would give some youths, imprisoned for life without parole, a glimmer of hope after they had served 25 years. It’s a travesty that the United States is the only country in the world that permits life without parole for children, and Yee’s bill is a small step toward a saner and more humane policy. Rounding out the stack, the board neither supports nor opposes Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s departure from the Republican party, but it laments the shrinking number of moderate denizens on the right.


Over in Op-Ed, Joseph Margulies of Northwestern University details the suffering of Abu Zubaydah, the man President George W. Bush described as ‘one of the top three leaders’ in Al Qaeda, when subsequent information determined he was little more than a ‘personnel clerk.’

First, they beat him. As authorized by the Justice Department and confirmed by the Red Cross, they wrapped a collar around his neck and smashed him over and over against a wall. They forced his body into a tiny, pitch-dark box and left him for hours. They stripped him naked and suspended him from hooks in the ceiling. They kept him awake for days. And they strapped him to an inverted board and poured water over his covered nose and mouth to ‘produce the sensation of suffocation and incipient panic.’ Eighty-three times.’

Olivia Gentile calls for more funding and a renewed effort to save birds from extinction. She notes that a recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with conservation organizations found that while many birds once in danger of extinction are now fine -- such as the bald eagle and the brown pelican--about one-third face the possibility of dying out. And finally, Lenny Goldberg, executive director of the California Tax Reform Assn., spanks the Legislature and the governor for giving corporations a tax break he says will give the state little in return.

This is money for nothing--companies do not have to provide a single new job to receive a huge tax cut, which benefits their worldwide shareholders.