The Taliban attacks a Kabul hotel; the TSA’s rules; UC fears of a brain drain


Message received

Re “Taliban sends a message with Afghan hotel attack,” June 30

The photo accompanying the piece on the Taliban attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan is eloquent. A foreign fighter, haggard and bloodied, confronts the camera, while the apparent Afghan “fighter” to his right hides his face, perhaps fearing he’ll be recognized by his fellow “citizens.”

Afghanistan has thousands of years of history and a roughly 70% illiteracy rate. The fighting there is a proxy war between Pakistan and India.


That a majority of Americans think it’s not worth one more drop of our young peoples’ blood is surprising only to the politicians who got us embroiled in the first place.

Michael Jenning

Van Nuys

A delicacy we can do without

Re “Shark fin soup debate divides a community,” June 29

The “battle” over shark fin soup need not be a battle at all. The argument advanced by opponents of a ban — namely that shark-fin soup is part of Asian tradition — is completely facetious. It was perhaps a tradition but, until very recent times, one that was restricted to a tiny number of wealthy Chinese.

Its consumption is not an indication of the innate deliciousness of shark fins but rather a statement of status and wealth. Today almost every Chinese person can afford to dine on shark fins, and shark species are rapidly going extinct.


The ban on shark fin soup is morally and ethically justified.

Rod Nelson

Burnaby, Canada

The oceans are being assaulted from pollution, overfishing and neglect. A healthy — and indeed just an existing — shark population must be maintained to ensure a food supply for the entire planet. One culture cannot destroy the oceans and go against the rest of humankind for a bowl of soup.

Cultural heritage is not a reason to continue this destructive practice. This country engaged in and supported the cultural heritage (to some) of slavery. Slavery should never have been allowed, and it continued for far too long.

Matthew Hetz

Los Angeles


UC brain drain could get worse

Re “UC is losing talent to deeper pockets,” June 29

The departure to greener pastures of tenured University of California faculty is indeed a major issue. However, the article underemphasizes two related issues.

First, the grants these faculty take with them employ many individuals, from entry-level research assistants to highly skilled technical workers. In my lab alone we employ more than 40 people whose work depends on grants.

Second, in addition to senior faculty we are losing the opportunity to recruit the best and brightest new young faculty. Last month I lost out on recruiting a young researcher who had just finished his postdoctoral work at Stanford in wireless health technologies, considered a key element of our region’s economic future. UC San Diego could not come up with a competitive salary and benefit plan.

Run this model into the future and it’s pretty clear where it leads.

Kevin Patrick, MD

La Jolla


The writer is a professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

It’s been this way for years. In the early 1950s, when I was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, professors did the same thing. It helps to spread the talent around and makes the organizations and individuals more valuable.

I worked in the aerospace industry, making several position changes along the way. My experience at North American Aviation and Aerojet-General helped considerably in solving U.S. Air Force space systems problems when I became an engineering manager at the Aerospace Corp.

Changing jobs in academia and industry can be beneficial for all.

George Epstein

Los Angeles

It appears to me that despite their outstanding accomplishments in the fields of physics and cancer research, Lakers star Kobe Bryant makes more money than these three scientists combined.


Too bad the professors never learned to dribble and shoot a basketball.

Jeremiah Flanigan

Long Beach

The TSA and its many rules

Re “Woman has to remove diaper for pat-down,” and “Rage against the TSA,” Opinion, June 28

Despite my careful preparations, including a detailed letter from my doctor, for carrying on necessary medications on a flight to Paris last fall, I hit a snafu at L.A. International Airport with rude security screeners who were ignorant of Transportation Security Administration protocol.

My experience pales in comparison to the humiliating one of the ill 95-year-old woman who was required to remove her diaper. Seriously? And then the rote TSA response that they were just doing their jobs? Common sense? Nope. Intelligent discrimination in assessing passengers and perceived threats? Guess not.

Wake up fliers: These kind of events are happening at an airport near you.

Marilyn Moore Shultz


San Clemente

As someone who has logged more than 400,000 miles in the air during the last decade, and as someone who stood on the banks of the Hudson River on Sept. 11, 2001, and watched the twin towers burn, I thank God for the TSA and for all it has done to keep travelers safe.

Teresa Franklin


Although it is fun to pick on the TSA, agents who blindly follow rules are poor targets.

Consider that public schools proudly announce zero-tolerance policies for drugs and weapons. It turns out this applies to a teenage girl who gives a friend a Midol for menstrual cramps and an Eagle Scout who has a small pocketknife in the trunk of his car. In each case officials smugly reply that their hands were tied.

We eagerly voted for a three-strikes law and felt satisfaction when Congress passed harsh mandatory sentencing laws for drug possession. Admit it: We are comfortable with inflexibility — until it is applied to us.


Arthur Klimeck

San Pedro

Pet smart

Re “Fur, scales, feathers fly over S.F. pet sales,” June 27

If passed, the ban on selling animals in San Francisco would save countless animals from suffering. Most breeders comfortably remove themselves from the life-and-death reality of animal shelters. But every time someone buys an animal from a pet store, an animal in a shelter loses its chance at a home.

The ban on selling fish will prevent much suffering as well. Fish are smart animals who form complex social relationships, but they are doomed to dull, lonely lives in our home aquariums. In 2004, Monza, Italy, banned keeping goldfish in bowls because these containers do not meet the needs of fish.

Anyone who is ready to make a lifetime commitment to an animal should adopt from a shelter or reputable breed rescue group and always have animals spayed or neutered.


Teresa Chagrin

Norfolk, Va.

The writer is animal care and control specialist at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Perot was right

Re “Free-trade pacts’ unlikely foe,” Editorial, June 30

A June 29 article confirmed what we all already knew: “Overseas competition is blamed for thousands of lost jobs.” Now you are identifying Republicans for standing in the way of free-trade agreements.

Regardless of politics, the free-trade pact with South Korea is bad for employment in this country. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that more than 500,000 jobs have been lost thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement.


Ross Perot coined the phrase “giant sucking sound.” We don’t need to compound stupidity.

Don Evans

Canoga Park