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The leaked Palestinian negotiating papers; bankruptcy for states; reconsidering capital punishment

Repair before you build

Re “Brown defends cuts to mayors,” Jan. 27

Gov. Jerry Brown is right on target. Cities are always eager to acquire redevelopment funds, but instead of fixing the existing infrastructure (repaving roads, replacing subterranean pipelines and repairing or replacing inefficient and outdated street lighting), they build more malls.

My city right now is loaded with partially filled, and in some cases empty, strip malls. Building much-vaunted “multi-use” facilities (apartments upstairs and retail stores downstairs) is also an ineffective use of redevelopment monies. The apartments fill up pretty quickly, but the stores stand empty.

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Cities need to stop bragging about the “new” stuff they are building and instead take care of the infrastructure that has been ignored for too long.

Tom Reinberger

Glendora

Palestinian positions

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Re “A great betrayal,” Opinion, Jan. 27

Thank you for printing Saree Makdisi’s thoughts on the revelations regarding the so-called peace negotiations.

It is deeply disturbing that our government would support and encourage shameful lies and blatant discrimination against the Palestinians, who have been the victims all along. Now the truth is out. And the self-appointed Palestinian leaders have only been negotiating for their self-interest and survival, not for their people.

Thank God for the undying will of the Palestinian people. I have no doubt that their freedom is coming. I just hope it will be through nonviolence.

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Therese Walrath

Santa Rosa

Makdisi distorts the revelations in the leaked documents. For example, with respect to Jerusalem, they merely show that in 2008, the Palestinians finally accepted proposals regarding Jerusalem made by President Clinton eight years earlier. And as The Times noted separately in a blog post, the “Palestinians were demanding in return Maale Adumim, Gival Zeev, Ariel,” adding, “That’s such a painful concession for Israel that you have to question whether the Palestinian offer was even serious.”

Makdisi’s worst outrage was his equation of Israeli Jews with colonists. He forgets that Jews are Israel’s indigenous people. As then-Arab nationalist leader Emir Feisal wrote to Chaim Weizmann in 1919, when both were seeking their respective states: “We Arabs … look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.... We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.”

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Stephen A. Silver

San Francisco

Makdisi makes it plain for all to see: However embarrassing it may be to witness Palestinian leadership giving away the rights of their people, Israel has no incentive to accept their capitulation as long as the U.S. backs Israel. The Palestinians have no partner for peace.

Paul Larudee

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El Cerrito, Calif.

Makdisi doesn’t explain to the Palestinians that the expectations being fed to them are a mirage. This feeds into the hatred and bigotry in Palestinian schools and media.

There is no Israeli government that can ever accede to the immigration of millions of Palestinian Arabs to Israel, which would destroy the culture and civilization of the Jewish plurality in Israel.

Interestingly, a recent independent poll of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem showed that a plurality of them prefer living under Israeli rule rather than in a Palestinian state. Notwithstanding the writer’s claims of economic repression by Israel, the West Bank over the last several years has recorded strong GDP growth.

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Herb Glaser

Beverly Hills

The bankruptcy solution

Re “Better off bankrupt,” Opinion, Jan. 27

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Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush blame public-sector workers for the states’ budget crises. They propose that states should be allowed to go bankrupt, cancel union contracts and adjust or eliminate pensions.

Those public workers spent years laboring in good faith, assuming that as part of their compensation they were earning a pension as well as their salaries, which are in fact often lower than those in the private sector precisely because civil servants accept lower pay in return for superior benefits.

There is a word for this kind of bait-and-switch: fraud.

Gayle K. Brunelle

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Brea

It is unethical to continue down a path of taxing the normal taxpayers (nongovernment workers) to fund the past politicians’ promises to the government unions in exchange for their support.

Taxpayers can’t afford these pensions as they exist today. Government workers are to serve the public and should not be allowed collective bargaining rights.

California needs to do exactly what Orange County did in 1994: file for bankruptcy.

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Wes Prunckle

San Pedro

Bush and Gingrich use bankruptcy as a great cover for the real goal of the Republican Party, which is to eliminate a primary funding source for Democrats: unions. With corporate money going to Republicans thanks to the Citizens United ruling, they see an opportunity to leverage the present economic situation into an elimination of unions.

As we saw in the most recent election, when corporate money flows into close races unchecked, it can sway public opinion. Silencing unions would make the media-driven election process even more one-sided.

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Michael Bell

Simi Valley

The authors lost their credibility in the first paragraph, in which they list California, Illinois and New York, all with Democratic governors, as states facing budget crises while leaving out New Jersey and Texas, with GOP governors.

Those states are in as bad, if not worse, financial condition as the three mentioned. How foolish do they think we are?

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Bob Pinzler

Redondo Beach

Thank you, Gingrich and Bush, for your unsolicited advice regarding California’s economic woes, but your plan will not be needed. Just persuade your friends in Washington to refund to this state the billions in tax revenues collected in California that end up elsewhere, and we will handle the rest.

Tom Walker

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Costa Mesa

On executions

Re “Demise of a death drug,” Editorial, Jan. 27

Capital punishment makes serial killers of us all. If it is wrong for individuals to kill, then it is wrong for individuals to support murder as a group. It is bad enough that we kill in wars and through abortion.

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Prisoners suffer more through life imprisonment than they do by being released through death. When they are alive, they have time to think about their crimes. Incarceration is a major form of atonement.

It’s time we join the rest of the civilized world and start demonstrating truly human behavior in this area. Our lives may depend on it.

Rosemary Patterson

Los Angeles

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Rule of law

Re “Justices rebuke appeals court,” Jan. 25

The (uninformed) notion of constitutional law is that it is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. This is merely positive law — that interpretation that happens to be in vogue.

This case presents a really straightforward issue: Did the parole board abuse its discretion, thereby depriving prisoner Damon Cooke of his constitutional right to equal protection and due process of law?

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Yes, we know a prisoner doesn’t have a constitutional right to parole, as does any constitutional law student who has absorbed a modicum of the course material. To restate this is to say we’re not going to decide whether the parole board abrogated Cooke’s actual right.

When this "-ism-based” approach is rebuked by the president, we hear the voice of reason. But when this voice is muted, we must rely on the “higher law” of reason itself.

John B. Johnson

Huntington Beach

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