On an antiabortion bill in Mississippi; California’s costly bullet train; news on climate change

Abortion test

Re “High-stakes abortion fight,” Nov. 5

I don’t know what Bible the folks in Mississippi are reading, but it’s not one I’m familiar with.

The New Testament has no references at all to a fetus, but the Old Testament is very specific. If a man kills another man, he must pay with his life; if he kills an animal, he must offer restitution. But, according to Exodus 21:22: “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.” A fetus was considered potential property.


The far right seems to be fabricating its own theology to strip women of their rights. I don’t know why they’re so hostile toward Muslims who embrace Sharia law; they would appear to have a lot in common.

Sandy Smith

Los Angeles

Perhaps the voters in Mississippi should Google Sherri Finkbine.

In 1962, Finkbine discovered that the drug she had been taking for her morning sickness was thalidomide, which causes severe fetal deformities. No hospital would perform the abortion she sought. The Arizona Supreme Court denied her petition.

Finkbine flew to Sweden to receive a therapeutic abortion. The fetus would have been born with no legs and only one arm.

The same faction that claims it wants government “off their backs” wants to intrude on other people’s most sensitive decisions.

S.G. Mann


Huntington Beach

Unloading on the bullet train

Re “Still on board the bullet train,” Editorial, Nov. 4

The only high-speed thing about the so-called bullet train is the rate at which its projected costs are rising. Earth to The Times: Air travel is faster, cheaper and more convenient than the proposed train, so why would anyone choose it over flying? The dining car?


You’re proposing that a nearly bankrupt state spend huge amounts of money so we can watch half-empty passenger trains shuttle between Bakersfield and Chowchilla really fast. Apart from repealing “Obamacare,” I cannot think of a higher priority for voters than killing this mother of all boondoggles.

E.G. Rice

Marina del Rey

Bravo to The Times for staying on board the bullet train. But let’s leave the gambling to Las Vegas.


Bullet train success will be driven primarily by state and local land-use decisions that determine where residents will live and work. A well-planned and coordinated “value capture” funding mechanism can cover most of the bullet train’s development and operating costs, thereby reducing the need for taxpayer subsidies.

When state and local leaders agree on such a plan, the bullet train can be a prudent investment and not a costly gamble.

Albert Perdon



Recently I had a dream in which I was having a chat with God.

I asked him, “God, will there ever be a high-speed train between San Francisco and L.A.?” God cocked his head and thought for a moment, and then he answered, “Yes, but not in my lifetime.”

Robert Schwartz

Thousand Oaks


Rooney’s mark

Re “Acerbic essayist on ’60 Minutes,’ ” Obituary, Nov. 6

After a “60 Minutes” broadcast on the perils of smoking, I sent Andy Rooney a vintage cigarette pack that boasted the slogan, “Just what the doctor ordered.”

In return, I received this letter:


Dear Mr. Schwartzman,

I know perfectly well what you’ve done. You’ve unloaded a bit of memorabilia on me that you no longer wanted but didn’t have the heart to throw away. Nonetheless, I’m going to keep your pack of Kensitas cigarettes in anticipation of being able to use them somehow in the future.


Andrew A. Rooney


I cherished that cigarette pack almost as much as the witty letter.

Arnold Schwartzman

Los Angeles

It’s getting warmer


Re “Big leap in global warming gases,” Nov. 5

This is front-page news, not material for deep inside the paper. We are backsliding into complacency when it comes to climate change.

It is more necessary than ever to develop clean, sustainable energy and forgo fossil fuels. It should be mandated that all new homes have some solar panels installed; there should be greater incentives for people to retrofit their homes and businesses with solar panels. Instead, we focus on transient events that often distract us from stopping to think about what we are doing to this planet.

We are fiddling while Rome burns.


Mary Clumeck

Santa Ana

The Department of Energy warns of how feeble our efforts are in slowing man-made global warming. In 2010, the world produced an additional 564 million tons of carbon emissions, a 6% increase over 2009.

What can you expect when the world population continues to increase? The more people, the more carbon emissions. It would be prudent to encourage smaller families and distribute birth control.


Corollary benefits of reducing population density include less traffic congestion, fewer body-shaking potholes in our roads, fewer fender-benders, less demand on our aging infrastructure, less gasoline consumption — and lower carbon emission levels.

George Epstein

Los Angeles

Sacked? Why?


Re “U.S. ousts general after he criticized Afghan leaders,” Nov. 6

Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller tells it like it is, and he is ousted from his command. He should be given a medal and a promotion. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has slammed the U.S. for months but has still taken our money.

Gen. John Allen, who relieved Fuller of his command, said the comments were “neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan.” Has he talked to former Soviet commanders lately?

As Fuller said, “Cod’s on the menu today.” I say get out and “let them eat cake.”


Edward Horack

Huntington Beach

It’s no fluke

Re “Up-close admirers off Santa Cruz put themselves at risk, officials say,” Nov. 3


Those hardy enough to paddle out a mile or two into the Pacific Ocean to hang with humpbacks have already pondered the wisdom of putting themselves in harm’s way. I doubt they need a warning about dallying beneath a whale’s fluke when they’ve already rationalized away many other outcomes.

It’s not about the paddlers’ well-being; it’s about the whales’. Federal law is very clear about this. Stay 50 yards away from all marine mammals. Avoid anything that causes them to change their behavior.

Those are the rules. Let’s try to abide by them.

Paul Yeuell



Lean on ‘em

Re “Where poor students soar,” Nov. 5

Kudos to Sandy Banks for capturing the message of the Plummer Elementary School administration regarding low test scores: data-driven results combined with Joe Clark-like tough love.


Though data may provide a snapshot of the causes of low scores on the state’s basic skills test, low-performing schools should take a lesson from the movie “Lean on Me”: Anything less than high expectations, strong leadership, engaged parents and competent teachers is unacceptable.

Rodd Amos

Baldwin Hills