Solar energy versus the environment; birth control, the government and the Roman Catholic Church; the Internet's 'junk info'

Power vs. the desert

Re "The power compromise," Feb. 5

If people want renewable energy, they should understand it must come from somewhere. In this case, the desert ecosystem is the somewhere. Although the Ivanpah Valley solar site and similar projects represent a devastating loss to this environment, if we continue to depend on fossil fuels, there will be devastation just as bad elsewhere in the world.

It seems that we Southern Californians are unable to deal with the devastation being so close to home. We live in a bubble where everything we do is somehow clean; we do not see the inner workings of good waste management, produce neatly stacked in the market, running water and so on.

If nothing else, these solar projects are a wake-up call to the very real consequences of the growing need for energy.

Tristan Navarro

Whittier

There is a distinction between concentrated and distributed solar energy production. Concentrated solar power is what we read of in this article — production at an industrial scale with all of the deleterious effects that result.

Distributed solar power focuses on the unshaded south-facing rooftops from Ventura to Tijuana, rooftops that could be harvested for far more acres of photovoltaics than the Mojave Desert could provide. Distributed solar production is better for the environment, requires less infrastructure and offers more opportunities for small business.

Therein lies the rub: There is no significant profit opportunity for private utilities in distributed power, nor is there any great photo-op for the politicians. And so in the name of environmentalism, we destroy the environment.

Charles Crawford

San Diego

I was appalled by the article's assessment of solar power as being the "Cadillac" of energy options. Solar is plummeting in price while coal is on the cusp of skyrocketing due to rising costs for transportation and long-overdue bills for power plant retrofits to comply with federal law.

And the article neglected to mention what will happen if we don't invest in solar, conservation, wind and geothermal energy: We will continue to burn coal until we push climate change to the point of no return.

Vicki Kirschenbaum

Burbank

A battle over birth control

Re "Catholics plan fight on coverage of birth control," Feb. 4

One should not confuse the recent muscle-flexing by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over health insurance coverage of birth control with the views of the majority of people who call themselves Catholic.

Talk to any priest and you will learn that rarely does he hear the "sin" of using birth control being uttered in the confessional booth. In terms of family planning, Catholics have pretty much adopted whatever method works, even if frowned on by church teachings.

In the wake of the massive coverup of the rape of children by Catholic priests, the role of being a moral compass is all but gone for Catholic bishops. Their grandstanding on this vital issue is a feeble attempt to regain a position of moral leadership.

Bill Cranham

La Quinta

Re "Birth-control fight doesn't worry Obama camp," Feb. 6

The article sums up the view of President Obama's team: Because most Catholics do not follow the church's teachings on birth control, they will not punish Obama for insisting that Catholic institutions supply birth control.

This view overlooks the profound impact of telling a religious group that it must support a policy at variance with its teachings. This is unprecedented and dangerous.

Once the government steps over the line to tell religious groups what they can and cannot do, anything is possible.

Another casualty of this action is the credibility of liberal Catholics who supported healthcare reform on the supposition that the president would respect separation of church and state. Sister Carol Keehan is quoted in the article as saying the new policy was a "jolt."

That jolt was the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under her by her erstwhile allies in the Obama administration.

Erik Axelson

Santa Barbara

First the Romans, now us

Re "Feasting on junk info," Opinion, Jan. 31

Clay Johnson well explains how the Internet increasingly accommodates — and abets —the most ignoble and insipid tastes of its users.

No question but that this lamentable trend reflects society's accelerating rot.

Bread-and-circus diversions in the form of tawdry Internet links may placate an ever more dumbed-down populace. But history teaches that a price will be paid.

Our decline in collective morality and critical thinking appears much steeper than that which presaged the Roman Empire's

decline.

Joyce Howerton

Lompoc

I agree with Johnson's analysis outlined in his column, but I do not comprehend his lumping Keith Olbermann along with Glenn Beck and the media celebrities he cites.

Beck rants and raves and spews mostly falsehoods and distortions, whereas although Olbermann tends to rant on occasion, he uses facts to make his case and talks to guest commentators who contribute supporting and non-supporting opinions.

There is no comparison between Olbermann and the others, and Johnson should know better.

David Coulson

Huntington Beach

Class cameras

Re "Accused teacher drew sheriff's scrutiny in '94," Feb. 3

The Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who was arrested for alleged sexual misconduct was investigated some years ago, but the matter was dropped due to

insufficient evidence.

I worked in foster care and realize how hard it is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to believe abuse has taken place in the privacy of one's home. However, a classroom is a different setting and the solution is simple: Install cameras.

I realize this is expensive, but the children's trauma from being victimized will last a very long time, and further abuse probably will take place. There is no other way to protect our children.

David Amitai

Los Angeles

Political jobs

Re "Jobless rate falls to 8.3%, a 3-year low," Business, Feb. 4

The unemployment rate hits a three-year low and the Republican response is predictable. They cling to their talking points that Obama inherited a recession and made it worse. They offer no rational explanation for their view.

The same Republican leaders then enlighten us with these words of wisdom: "It could be better." The approval rating for those in Congress could be better than 13%, but it isn't. When (and if) they ever become concerned about jobs other than their own, that number may improve as well. That will happen when pigs fly.

Robert Baruch

Goleta, Calif.

Unwelcome mat

Re "An LAX struggle in foreign travel," Feb. 5

Los Angeles International Airport is an embarrassment. I have always felt bad for friends coming from abroad whose first exposure to the U.S. is this decrepit facility. Trying to explain to a European how to access public transit from the airport (otherwise known as "you can't get there from here") elicits disbelief.

Airport planners would do well to spend some time at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Efficient public transit at the airport? Check. Shopping, dining and business services? Check. Friendly, professional, competent and multilingual staff? Check. These make a world-class facility, something LAX in its current state can only dream of.

Brian Curtis

Ventura

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