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The death of Elizabeth Taylor; Gov. Brown’s plan for a vote on taxes; U.S. leadership in the world

Taylor touched so many

Re “Icon of glamour, on and off screen,” Obituary, March 24

In July 1961, at the age of 11, I was hospitalized for six weeks. Although I was seriously ill, the young boy in the room next to mine was far worse; I was told he had leukemia.

One day there was great excitement outside my room. An entourage of several well-dressed, important-looking people were coming down the hall, surrounding a couple — a dark, somewhat slight man, and a woman who drew everyone’s rapt attention. It was Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor.

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She was there to visit the fading boy. I could see her through the glass, talking with him and touching him gently, and I could see the boy responding. However briefly, he glowed in her presence. Within days, his room was empty.

After all these years, I’ve never forgotten the fading boy or the beautiful angel who gave him comfort when he most needed it.

Ron Terranova

Huntington Beach

As the brother of an AIDS patient who lost his life far too early a long time ago, I mourn Taylor’s death.

Along with Princess Diana and a handful of other public figures, Taylor led the way in the 1980s and beyond in humanizing the AIDS epidemic. She played an instrumental role in helping to increase people’s understanding of this disease in the face of widespread stigma and denial as well as silence from elected officials.

To me, this was her greatest contribution to making this a better world.

Thomas Sheehan

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Los Angeles

Taylor took beauty to a unique level, made the term “movie legend” meaningful and had compassion in her genes. I shook hands with her in 1984 and, although she quickly slipped her hand in and out of mine, I was trembling.

I touched Elizabeth Taylor for an ever so brief moment, but she touched me for a lifetime.

Woody McBreairty

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West Hollywood

Re “The one and only Liz,” Editorial, March 24

I found your “tribute” to a legend — Elizabeth Taylor — to be offensive and mean-spirited. Why did you need to mention stolen jewelry and make that final nasty crack about thinking she was already dead?

Irene DeBlasio

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Studio City

Two sides to the tax vote

Re “Brown may skirt GOP on tax vote,” March 23

You state that Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan is “at risk of collapse.” I urge Brown to put the interest of the people before the interest of the GOP and push forward with extending the current taxes. Because this is not an increase per se, he would not be reneging on his promise not to raise taxes without a vote.

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And what exactly would be so bad about breaking an untenable promise? Reevaluating positions in light of reality is a sign of leadership and should be applauded.

Felix E. Schweizer

Los Angeles

When I first learned of the governor’s wish to let the voters decide on extending temporary tax increases, I thought sure, we should all share in the cost to save our state. This, despite the fact that my wife lost her job a year ago and my business is down by one-third.

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Then came stories about outrageous pensions received by many government workers. Some pensions are larger than what I’ve ever earned working in a year. Then I read about other government workers who wasted, or should I say stole, taxpayer money.

Despite the recession, government waste and fraud continues, with little accountability.

Guess how I’ll be voting now.

Scott Brownchweig

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Playa Del Rey

Lessons of the Triangle fire

Re “Honoring labor’s martyred heroes,” Opinion, March 20

Thanks to The Times and Alice Hoffman for this thought-provoking article.

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Three of my grandparents came to the United States from Ireland. My grandfathers worked on the railroad, as did my father, and this article reminded me of the sacrifices they and many other immigrants made to get the railroad unions started and working for the people.

May God bless the 146 killed 100 years ago in the Triangle fire, the martyrs in other unions and the immigrants who furnished their lifeblood in the cause of free labor.

Jim McGrath

Glendale

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We seem to have a

problem distinguishing between victims and

heroes. I suspect that making victims into heroes is a grief-driven reaction: “Our dead are heroes and didn’t die in vain.”

The point of the Triangle tragedy was that people did die in vain. The outrage at these pointless deaths prodded lawmakers to begin forcing businesses to protect their workers as well as profits.

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Victims are those killed or injured by happenstance, terrorism or war: office workers in the World Trade Center or the thousands caught in the Japanese tsunami. Heroes are those who, knowing the risks, rush in to save lives and property: police officers and firefighters at the World Trade Center and the workers at the Japanese nuclear plant.

Victims should be mourned, but heroes should be celebrated. Labeling victims “heroes” diminishes the accomplishments of those most deserving of our admiration.

Andrew Safir

La Mesa

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The moral of the mural

Re “It’s an alley oops,” March 22

To be fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood with someone like Barbara Black would be a gift. What a loving community gesture for her to make so that all could enjoy this mural.

The neighbor who lodged this complaint needs to look into his soul and see why he would bring suit against one of his own, who obviously loved her ‘hood enough to give students a showcase for their talents. Any art school would be lucky to have such creative and articulate artists as Anthony Green and Alex Perez as students.

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This is censorship at its worst. All art is subjective. If Black had merely painted her wall, I’m sure any color choice would be suspect. Maybe a subversive, cult-like message lurks somewhere in Navajo white.

Leslie Ann Holliday

Pasadena

I often wonder whether officials overreact to one cranky neighbor (who might be a chronic complainer), or do they check with others in the neighborhood before they issue a fine of $356?

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Erica H. Ferro

San Pedro

Still No. 1

Re “Letting others lead,” Opinion, March 20

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The headline could have read, “Let others lead as we pretend to follow” — pretend because everyone above first grade knows the reality is we have to lead. Oh sure, others

saber-rattle and bloviate, but they need the U.S. at the forefront.

This is why we elect the supposed leader of the free world. This leader, however, goes out of his way to talk down his and his country’s leadership — for fear of what, a poor international image? The international community is the first to come knocking on our door when trouble arises.

I am all for building consensus and strong coalitions, but never at the expense of our leadership role in the world.

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Andrew Chawke

Sherman Oaks

Animal talk

Re “ ‘Puppy mill’ precautions,” Editorial, March 18

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What kind of a society thinks it’s acceptable to use for-profit sentient beings to the point of having their bones break and teeth fall out? Why are we allowing breeding of any animals when millions are euthanized in shelters every year?

Oh, you say, this is these people’s livelihoods? It’s time for breeding animals for profit to go the way of the payphone. Let the breeders find cruelty-free work — something that doesn’t exploit animals that don’t even have a voice. Where is the outrage?

Jill Watkins

Laguna Beach

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