The future of high-speed rail in California; 'Made in China' at the Smithsonian; lower ticket prices for bad movies

All aboard!

Re "Off the rails," Opinion, April 25

California's population is projected to grow to nearly 47 million by 2030, and we need to find a way to move all these new people. High-speed rail is the least expensive way to do that, and it has the added benefits of creating jobs and reducing air pollution.

According to the High-Speed Rail Authority, to serve the same number of people that the train would by 2020, we'd have to build 3,000 new lane-miles of highway, five airport runways and 90 airport departure gates. That price tag would be greater than the project's "higher estimate" of $81 billion.

It's going to cost us to meet the infrastructure demands of our growing population no matter what path we choose, so let's do it in a way that is the most affordable and puts Californians to work right now.

Jaafar Rizvi

Los Angeles

The writer is transportation associate at the California Public Interest Research Group.

Perhaps California has been seduced by high-speed rail as a solution to too many transportation challenges. The state has forced this simple answer to transportation needs and is now flailing about to justify that decision.

What is needed is a network of complementary transportation services that can be constructed incrementally. Each mode (rail, bus, auto and air) has value for specific markets; rail doesn't compete, it complements the other modes. For California, this incremental approach has already started with our commuter trains, urban transit and regional lines.

As a local and regional network is built, high-speed rail would become the final stage of a comprehensive network.

Michael E. McGinley

La Crescenta

One would assume that James E. Moore II has not traveled by air in the last few years. Even an easy one-hour flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco has become a complete nightmare. Four hours door to door is not uncommon.

Moore cites the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., named for the person who gave us Proposition 13, which has done such wonders for the California economy. He does not even mention the convenience and comfort that rail travel provides travelers, which would surely become a big part of the equation.

You can step on a high-speed train in the middle of Paris, step off that train in the middle of London two hours later and never even feel a vibration. And they had to build a tunnel under the English Channel to do it. What's wrong with those people?

Geoff Case

Sherman Oaks

Thanks to Moore's way of thinking, U.S. rail is stuck in the early 20th century. We cannot continue to depend on cars and certainly not the airlines to move us from place to place.

Jerry Rutledge

West Hollywood

Good old U.S. tchotchkes

Re " 'Made in America' may be a tough sell at Smithsonian," April 23

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.) wants to require all items sold in any of the Smithsonian Institution stores to be made in the United States. "It is utterly absurd and frankly insulting that the patriotic American mementoes [visitors] are taking home today are stamped with the words 'Made in China,'" Rahall said.

Does this mean that this senator, elected by Americans and whose salary and expenses are paid by them, should be required to exclusively use and wear American-made products? Or would it be utterly absurd and frankly insulting to expect him to do so?

Bob Hunka

Los Angeles

It is encouraging that we have legislators like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rahall who are concerned about the prevalence of items of Chinese origin that are sold at the Smithsonian gift shops. They should be concerned, but they need to address the bigger picture.

If they were to walk into almost any clothing or electronics store, they would see how few items are made in America. We have a huge imbalance of trade, and rules and regulations perpetuate that imbalance. I personally buy athletic shoes made by New Balance because they are made in the U.S.

Beverly E. Adair

Palm Springs

A stinker, but at least it's cheaper

Re "Should bad movies cost less to see?," Business, April 26

Though David Lazarus presents a bright, shiny new option for movie prices, I can't help but think of a hole in the logic of the pricing: If a bad movie costs less to see, wouldn't that movie be more popular and therefore make more money?

I realize that Lazarus would like the option of seeing bad movies for less, but if the market can support lower ticket prices, why can't there be lower ticket prices for all movies?

Andrew Green

San Juan Capistrano

Ticketmaster is considering tying prices to an event's popularity? Awesome. Will it also tie service charges to an event's popularity? Really, it should need fewer bodies to "process" tickets for a lower-performing event than for a higher-performing one. So the overall ticket price should go down, right?

Not bloody likely.

Robert Harris

Garden Grove

Spread the kudos

Re "Education: The magic of hard work," Opinion, April 25

Readers may get the impression that teachers who work harder get better results, and that our children are apparently better educated by Teach for America's teachers.

I have read the organizations core-values statement and re-read what Elyse Colgan has accomplished at Charles R. Drew Middle School. Mazel tov!

But I don't see much of a difference between her (and Teach for America's) goals and efforts and those of the hundreds of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers I have been privileged to substitute for over the last 10 years. They also do their best; tutor at recess, lunch and after school; get sore throats; and innovate to the extent allowed by the district and the state.

They also don't quit after two years. They stick it out for the long term. Where are the kudos for them?

Hal Rothberg

Calabasas

Revenge

Re "Freed Guantanamo inmates often rejoin terrorists, files say," April 26

The U.S. must realize that it has no one to blame but itself for freed Guantanamo Bay inmates rejoining terrorist groups after being released.

When a country incarcerates suspected terrorists — some guilty, many innocent — and for years refuses to bring them to trial in a timely manner, vengeance and hatred of those who hold them is a natural response. It seems only logical that if they had been speedily tried, found guilty and imprisoned, or found innocent and allowed to return to their countries or remain in the U.S., fewer would be seeking revenge.

Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same in the future, because hundreds of prisoners still languish at Guantanamo.

Bob Murtha

Santa Maria

Language skills

Re "The mother tongues," Opinion, April 24

Though L.A. Unified's dual-language programs promote the cultural sharing of the two languages, resolving contradictions of gentrification is not the primary purpose.

Dual-immersion programs are intended to maximize the linguistic abilities of students to further language development in English and a second language in the context of other core academic subjects. We believe that the acquisition of an additional language is a skill necessary for success in the 21st century.

These research-based programs have yielded the intended results. For example, in both the math and language parts of the California standardized test, students in dual-language programs on average show higher rates of achievement than their counterparts at the same schools. This achievement is most notable in fourth and fifth grades, where the average dual-language student's performance is higher by 10 to 20 percentage points.

Yolie Flores

Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.

Don't bet on it

Re "The feds fold online poker," Opinion, April 24

If you want to bet on the horse races, you can go to the track or bet online. If you want to play poker for money, you can go to a casino. But you can't bet online.

Does this make sense? Obviously not.

Walter Harris

Santa Clarita

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