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Israel’s need for defensible borders; Michael Hiltzik on Medicare; a new approach to airport screeners

Defensible borders

Re “Israel’s defense,” Opinion, June 5

The next time you publish an opinion piece (or even a regular article) on Israel’s refusal to consider the 1967 borders for a two-state settlement with the Palestinians, please include a map that would outline what the countries would look like.

It will be obvious to anyone that what Dore Gold and others propose leaves the Palestinians with nothing that could remotely be considered viable. In addition, under those terms, what would happen to “security” for Palestine?

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These arguments actually make the case for the only reasonable and moral option: one democratic country that treats all of its citizens as equals.

Laila Al-Marayati

Shadow Hills

Gold is wrong about the indefensibility of the 1967 borders. The greatest threat to Israel is not a military one; its defense forces are stronger than all of its neighbors combined. The threat Israel must worry about is its moral and legal standing in the international community, which is undermined every day that Israel steals Palestinian land in its quest to expand. And as much as the Israelis may want to own the Jordan Valley, that land is not theirs; it is part of occupied Palestine.

Gold argues from a belief in perpetual war, a state that no nation can live in. The only hope for long-term safety and stability is by being at peace with its neighbors. For Israel this means ending its occupation of the West Bank and its siege of the Gaza Strip and making peace with a Palestinian state and all its Arab neighbors.

Jeff Warner

La Habra Heights

Medicating Medicare

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Re “A moral approach to curing Medicare,” Business, June 5

Thanks to Michael Hiltzik for exposing the Republican scheme to scapegoat Medicare and other “entitlement” programs as the cause of our deficit, when in reality our nation has been living beyond its means for years.

We cannot give huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, allow corporations to slip through tax loopholes and still fund a military capable of fighting several wars at one time. Dismantling Medicare by forcing poor seniors to pay more money to large insurance companies is not the solution.

We need to stop paying for wars with borrowed money and adopt a more compassionate approach to healthcare for the less fortunate.

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Jeanne Egasse

Santa Ana

Hiltzik tells us that the current government deficit is the result of an enormous tax cut for the wealthy, paying for two wars by credit card and spending to address the recession.

The tax-cut assertion is duplicitous: Tax revenues from the highest 1% rose from $256 billion in 2003 to $451 billion in 2007. Had higher tax rates remained in place, the top 1% would adeptly have behaved differently to avoid the taxes Hiltzik believes went uncollected.

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As for the two wars argument, the current liberal administration has prosecuted those wars now for more than two years. When will those costs stop being all George W. Bush’s fault?

Spending trillions beyond our means to “save the country” in a great recession is a tired “solution” that works out about as well as funding “shovel-ready” projects. Hiltzik plays the “morality” card to argue his issue — itself a juvenile, immoral stance.

Kip Dellinger

Santa Moncia

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Republicans want to end Medicare as we know it. They fight against letting Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. They say that the market will provide coverage. However, Medicare has a far lower cost to administer benefits, which makes sense. For-profit insurers are there for profit.

Now Republicans want to throw those with Medicare into the for-profit market and let them “negotiate” with insurers for coverage?

With representatives like these, who needs enemies?

Sharon Haywood

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Laguna Beach

TSA is not the only way

Re “Targeting the TSA,” Editorial, June 7

You took a logical leap when you said security contractors on 9/11 “allowed 19 hijackers with knives and box cutters to board planes that fateful day.” In fact, the knives and box cutters that the hijackers carried aboard were legal at the time.

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You are correct that the private firms had serious deficiencies, but 9/11 was an intelligence failure, not a failure at the security checkpoint. The plots foiled since 9/11 have failed mostly thanks to better intelligence rather than anything detected by airport screening. Would-be hijackers in recent years have rarely made it as far as the airport.

Airport security standards were too low before 9/11. But while federalized security isn’t inherently inefficient and ineffective, it also doesn’t automatically equate to higher standards. Accountable, high-quality contractors should be able to do the job too.

Seth Kaplan

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

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The writer is managing partner at Airline Weekly.

Wow, just think! We can save $1.80 per passenger by eliminating the Transportation Security Administration and having private contractors handle airport security screening, just like they did pre-9/11. I am sure the families of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day will appreciate this cost-cutting move.

While we are at it, let’s abolish the Federal Aviation Administration and hand all air travel operations, including pilot training and oversight, over to the private carriers. I am sure they will keep passenger safety in mind and never cut corners to make a buck.

Just don’t think about it at 30,000 feet.

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Howard S. Blum

Thousand Oaks

A rough tobacco road

Re “Kneecapping the FDA,” Editorial, June 5

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Over my 47 years as a practicing physician, I’ve been in favor of eliminating smoking. I have treated many patients who were seriously injured or died prematurely due to tobacco use.

Tobacco smoking should have been made illegal long ago. I blame legislators who were bought by the tobacco industry. Why did they become legislators? To protect the people, or to permit dangerous practices to continue?

I would gladly forgo the money I make treating tobacco-sickened patients. These people are my friends. I abhor an industry that shortens their lives by addicting them to a behavior that the human body was never designed to do.

Melvin H. Kirschner, MD

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Granada Hills

Why is Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Montana) proposing an amendment to keep the Food and Drug Administration from banning menthol in cigarettes? Is his motivation for the greater good or for greater profits?

I gave up smoking after 25 years of loving the habit. That entire time I felt I was in control and could give up cigarettes anytime if I truly wanted to; that is, until I changed to smoking menthol cigarettes. It was then I, a high school teacher, found myself needing a smoke between every one of my classes. I was addicted.

It took six months for me to break that menthol craving. Those six months taught me a lot about addiction and the loss of control, and it is not a fun place to be.

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Kay Mouradian

South Pasadena

Union days

Re “Dusting off its history,” June 5

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My accolades for the excellent article about the 10,000 fugitive slaves, or “contrabands,” who gathered at Ft. Monroe in Virginia under the protection of Union forces in 1861. The story of thousands more slaves who escaped into Union lines or out to Union gunboats during the Civil War has been largely overlooked.

Able-bodied African American males joined the Union Navy, and others served the Union war effort as river pilots, mechanics, informants, cooks, laundresses, hospital attendants, even spies. Their contributions deserve to be studied and remembered.

Barbara Brooks Tomblin

Camarillo

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Hiring lines

Re “Changes in teacher hiring urged,” June 7

Any good school administer knows that the choice of new hires at a school should not be left up to one person alone. All stakeholders should be involved in the hiring process; parents, teachers and administrators should make a choice as a team.

Leaving that important decision up to one person (the principal) sounds to me as a step backward, not forward.

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Tom Iannucci

Los Angeles


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