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Riding L.A.'s mass-transit lines; the climate change debate; Jonah Goldberg on the Gaza blockade

A little too much transit information

Re “On Blue Line, rides are a trip,” Column One, June 9

When Times columnists, public officials and MTA ads are working mightily to attract more Angelenos out of their cars and onto public transit, why oh why would you feature such an article in Column One?

Sadly, the piece is completely accurate and does not exaggerate the daily Blue Line circus. The Times correctly describes the Blue Line as the daily transport of choice for everyone from students to gangbangers to the down and out, and even to the infrequent individual who urinates in public on a train.

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Having ridden all of the rapid transport lines of the MTA, and having witnessed all that The Times described (which is certainly not limited to the Blue Line), I have no doubt that this article will offset all attempts to increase mass-transit ridership in Los Angeles.

Could this be a classic example of one hand not knowing what the other was doing?

Richard Lau

Sunland

I rode the Blue Line daily from Long Beach to Los Angeles from its inception until my retirement in 2004. During the past year, I have again ridden it to and from Los Angeles daily as a member of the civil grand jury.

The majority of us who ride are workers or students. Without disturbing our fellow riders, we read, nap, converse with friends or listen to news or music through earphones.

Yes, there are vendors on the Blue Line, but most walk down the aisles quietly holding up their wares (candy bars, jewelry or water).

I have seldom observed arguments and have never seen gambling. The passenger in the photo with the large cache of recyclables is not a daily sight.

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It is a great exaggeration to state that “hundreds of times a day a drama unfolds on the light-rail line.”

What unfolds is normal conduct by normal people.

Jeremiah Flanigan

Long Beach

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Defending Nierenberg

Re “Smoke, mirrors and climate doubt,” Opinion, June 8

This Op-Ed article is part of a continuing campaign to discredit William Nierenberg.

We disagree that Nierenberg worked “behind the scenes to weaken the conclusions of important government reports.” He did not dislike environmentalists, and he certainly never would have used crude language like calling someone a “watermelon.”

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Nierenberg was a highly distinguished scientist who was the longest-serving director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was considered largely responsible for building up its climate research program. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and was the first chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere.

In 1979, he was the coauthor of one of the first papers to document the specific dangers from rising CO2 levels, and in 1983, he was chairman of the most significant National Academy committee to that date to produce a report on the issue. The results of that report were remarkably close to the current 2007 IPCC consensus.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway paint a simplistic caricature of a great American scientist.

It is the height of irony that they criticize scientists for not following evidence, while in fact doing the same thing themselves.

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Nicolas Nierenberg

La Jolla

Victoria Tschinkel

Walter Tschinkel

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Tallahassee, Fla.

The writers are the son, daughter and son-in-law of the late William Nierenberg.

Maybe we doubt climate science because, essentially, everything we’ve been told to fear in the media has never come to pass.

From the apocalyptic “Coming Ice Age” and “Population Bomb” back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, to “The Y2K Bomb” more recently, to smaller scares like “killer bees,” fire ants and every El Nino that comes along, we’ve learned that it’s never as bad as the “experts” (with their funding as stake) tell us it’s going to be.

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Gregory Irwin

Pomona

Re “Don’t know, don’t care,” Opinion, June 8

The juxtaposition of these two Op-Ed aricles is perfect.

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Judith Mernit’s casual survey of Venice residents, friends and people on the street portrayed a high degree of ignorance about our state government coupled with a lackadaisical attitude about voting.

Below the fold was the equally disturbing piece by Oreskes and Conway that described long-term “organized efforts by industry and free-market enthusiasts to undermine the credibility of science they don’t like.”

These are crucial components of a failing state. An ignorant, apathetic public persuaded by corporate interests to lap up whatever Kool-Aid their PR machines offer.

I’m simultaneously pleased that your paper published these two excellent essays and disappointed in the knowledge that too few people read the editorial section of the paper to make a difference.

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Paul Scott

Santa Monica

Views on the Gaza blockade

Re “Gaza blockade: It works,” Opinion, June 8

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As Jonah Goldberg criticizes “liberals” for “living in a world of symbolism and metaphors,” he ignores the symbolism embedded in what he is supporting, namely the continued blockade of those living in Gaza.

To suffer by not having enough to eat, adequate shelter, medical care and so on are certainly real, lived experiences.

But to have these conditions imposed on a populace, and to support the continuation of policies that lead to these consequences, is as much a symbolic act as it is a horrible reality for the residents of the Gaza Strip.

The symbolism of deprivation is apparently acceptable to Goldberg as long as real people suffer and, in some cases, die. So abandon our sense of humanity in order to make a political point, and that is OK?

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Monstrous.

Edgar Kaskla

Long Beach

The writer is a lecturer in political science at Cal State Long Beach.

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Goldberg presumes the very point he sets out to prove: that the blockade of Gaza works.

In a very emotional argument, he has missed the obvious — that Israel’s blockade of Gaza has only served to strengthen and consolidate Hamas’ control over the people of Gaza.

Not only that, but according to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the reports of Israel’s harsh policies in Gaza and the West Bank put the lives of our soldiers at risk in both Iraq and Afghanistan every day.

The killing of nine Turkish and American citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara has made the efforts at containing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran immeasurably more difficult, if not impossible.

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Israel should learn from the example of Samson that strength has its limitations. Right now, its army is eyeless in Gaza, while Goldberg is trying to pull the hair over everyone’s eyes.

Peter A. O’Reilly

Claremont


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