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U.S. relations with Chile; the U.S. role in Libya; the Respect for Marriage Act

Chile’s troubled past

Re “Ghosts of Chile,” Opinion, March 20

I survived the repressive military regime in Chile backed by the U.S., and I believe Ariel Dorfman asked too much of President Obama in imploring him to visit with the researchers compiling a list of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s victims.

I thought that perhaps Obama could have visited the concentration camp, Villa Grimaldi, where I was confined. But that wouldn’t change anything. In order to get along with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera — Pinochet’s economic model incarnate — Chile’s painful and ugly history is regarded as an obstacle to peace and progress.

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Obama’s role as a world leader is to maintain the status quo. It means the perpetuation of volumes of denied history, one of an apartheid system in which the developed world rules. I don’t doubt that he will carry this out with sophistication because, unlike his predecessors, he truly is very smart and well informed.

Cosme Noriega

Costa Mesa

Dorfman thinks that Obama should pay homage to deposed Chilean President Salvador Allende. He actually did pay homage to the architect of the “Chilean economic miracle”: Pinochet.

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The president encountered the amazing prosperity and unparalleled liberty of the Chilean people, and thereby witnessed firsthand the good

Pinochet did for this most democratically successful Latin American nation. Pinochet’s policies, which ensured access to free markets for all, not just the privileged class, thwarted an attempt by Allende to sabotage Chile with Marxist policies.

Steve Beck

Glendora

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I have no particular connection to Chile or South America, but for some reason Allende’s removal sickens me as much as any act my country has participated in.

I wonder if we will ever realize that our relationships will be better and more rewarding if they are true friendships, not at the point of a gun (whether figurative or literal). There are plenty of lost opportunities to point to, along with the gruesome results.

As a November 2010 Times Op-Ed article put it, Obama ran for office as a transformational figure, then abandoned that to be a transactional one. How terribly sad.

Brandon Marlowe

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Santa Monica

There must be a catch

Re “Not our fight,” Opinion, March 21

Edward N. Luttwak is right on. Not only will we again be cast as the evil aggressors by the Arab world, but the same group who asked for help — the Arab League — is already complaining about our use of cruise missiles.

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The reaction in the Muslim countries is that no country would be dumb enough to risk its people and money unless it had something to gain. That’s why we have not won the hearts or gratitude of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All we are doing is wasting our lives and our fortune. United Nations approval doesn’t mean it’s in our best interest.

Ronald W. Howard

Long Beach

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It seems that Luttwak would base his decisions not on whether doing something is right or wrong but rather on whether the action would be seen by others as attacking a religion.

Enough of this drivel already. Spare us the thought that some people will view the action in Libya as predatory, aggressive and anti-Muslim. If that’s the way they want to see it, so what? Aren’t the rebels Muslims?

It’s a coalition action anyway. Let them blame the United Nations.

J.R. Thompson

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Irvine

Luttwak has hit the nail on the head. Years ago a friend of mine who had just returned from the Vietnam War told me that the people assumed that the United States was there to take over the country.

Luttwak is correct when he states that people in situations such as Libya’s find that it is beyond their imagination that any government would be “benevolent enough to expend blood and treasure to disinterestedly help foreigners.” Nothing changes except the location.

Robert Andrews

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Claremont

Online taxes are too much

Re “Are you an online tax cheat?” Editorial, March 22

Instead of passing new laws to collect taxes from Web retailers, how about enforcing the ones already on the books?

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Californians are already required to remit unpaid taxes on their Internet purchases, which they can easily do when filing annual state tax returns. Scofflaws can be penalized up to 25% for noncompliance.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) should push the Board of Equalization to do its job rather than lose faith in her fellow Californians to follow the law.

Kun David Lee

Simi Valley

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I make an occasional online purchase, but I don’t bother to remit the sales tax. Why should I? Last year I paid $4,979 in income taxes to the state. What did I get in return? A broken government that refuses to make hard choices.

Now I have two kids who will have to endure more crowded classrooms because we can’t afford to hire enough teachers. And you want me to go out of my way to give the state more money? Are you kidding?

If the state wants the money, it should have Amazon.com record my annual purchases and bill me, or it should deduct my sales tax due from my state tax refund.

Anthony Cvitanich

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San Pedro

The definition of marriage

Re “Respecting all marriages,” Editorial, March 21

In the 1970s and ‘80s, when homosexuals were looking for love in all the wrong places, they were vilified. Now, when they marry a permanent partner and have a family, they are denied the rights the rest of us enjoy while paying higher taxes because they can’t file joint returns.

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I agree with The Times and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that it is time to end the inequities and call on all loving parents of gay and lesbian children to support the Respect for Marriage Act and replace the prejudicial and unjust Defense of Marriage Act.

The Bible was written a long, long time ago by men. It should no longer determine our attitudes and legislation toward our homosexual brethren.

Lynne Shapiro

Marina del Rey

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The vast majority of states have expressed support for traditional marriage, and Feinstein’s bill would take away our right to define marriage. This is un-American, undemocratic and not right.

Same-sex couples complain that they don’t get certain medical or visitation rights that straight couples enjoy. Let’s fix those problems. But don’t mess with marriage.

In addition, gay marriage takes away the right of kids to have both a mom and dad. Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom. The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad.

Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, but they don’t have the right to redefine marriage.

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Bruce Alvord

La Crescenta

Shock story

Re “FDA revisits risks of shock treatments,” March 20

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In the 23 years my husband and I have been married, he has received electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, for deep depression half a dozen times. For him the various drugs were useful only for maintenance between ECT treatments. His most recent treatment was in January 2009 at the age of 82.

The first time he received treatment was in New York in the 1940s. As a result, he was able to return to Cornell after serving in World War II. He went on to receive his doctorate in physics and lead a successful life. Further treatment was not deemed necessary until 1989. There was some memory loss after that first occasion, and also after these more recent times. However, without ECT, life clearly was not worth living for him.

As a result of our experience, I hope that the treatment will always be there for those who need it.

Rose Kortright

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Santa Barbara

A full life

Re “Lost cadavers’ final chapter,” Column, March 19

Helen Yoshikawa and Kathy Pahlow have my condolences and my respect. I understand their pain and disillusionment.

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My dear sister donated her body to the UCLA medical school’s willed-body program too. It was her final act of generosity after a long struggle with a cruel illness, which she faced with uncommon grace and courage. The thought of her body, which had suffered such torment in life, being abused in the way described by Sandy Banks is too much to bear.

But I know, and I hope Yoshikawa and Pahlow also know, that nothing that occurred at UCLA could negate the wonderful, meaningful lives of our loved ones.

Barbara Schratwieser

Studio City

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