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Opinion

The resignation of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords; California’s courts face a budget crunch; UCLA is selling a prized Japanese garden

Political contrasts

Re “Gingrich gladly accepts critics’ ‘grandiose’ label,” and “Rep. Giffords says goodbye,” Jan. 26

The juxtaposition of these two articles on the same page is poignantly ironic. In one, Newt Gingrich displays his presumed mantel of grandiosity by invoking Abraham Lincoln, the Wright brothers andJohn F. Kennedy, cleverly pandering to an audience about how characteristically “grandiose” it is to be an American.

In the other, a young congresswoman who has survived a deranged killer’s bullet acknowledges that she can no longer effectively serve during her recovery period and resigns. Her peers offer sincere expressions of respect.

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In memory of those famous historical persons to whom Gingrich has grafted his own self-importance, I can say that former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords exhibits those human traits he seems to lack: honesty, humility and courage in the face of life’s actual threats. In that sense, Newt, you’re no Gabrielle.

Chuck Hackwith

San Clemente

State’s judicial system at risk

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Re “Spare the courts from cuts,” Editorial, Jan. 24

The courts — along with “police, criminal laws and prisons,” and adjudication of “business disputes, consumer complaints and regulatory matters” — are a huge economic drain. The problem isn’t too little money for the courts; it’s a tangled legal system.

There is a difference between a society of laws and a society of lawyers. The former creates laws to deal with areas in need of protection and adjudication. The latter — the one in which we live — creates laws to keep lawyers in business.

John Roscoe

Los Angeles

One major reason access to the courts is being curtailed is that the system is overwhelmed with drug-related cases. If we eliminated the huge profits in the drug trade, those cases would disappear and the courts would again be available to the average citizen.

Morton Winkel

Palm Desert

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The abortion debate continues

Re “New obstacles to abortion,” Opinion, Jan. 22

Meghan Rhoad claims that requiring a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound is bad for the doctor-patient relationship. And how is the doctor-patient relationship enhanced when the doctor lies — that is, what abortionists do when they tell a woman that the developing child is only a “mass of cells”?

If a woman sees the truth — eyes, hands, feet and a tiny beating heart — she might decide against abortion. But according to Rhoad, a woman having to consider the full weight of what she is doing constitutes a threat to her freedom of choice. But hurrying a woman onto the abortion table before she can change her mind is not pro-choice. It is pro-death.

Sylvia Alloway

Granada Hills

Every woman should understand the extent of her actions on an unborn being. By the same token, every person should visit a slaughterhouse and be instructed in detail about the killing and disassembly of an animal before he or she sits down to enjoy a steak or a burger.

I wonder how many judges would support those kind of laws.

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Tanja Johnston

Valley Village

UCLA and its garden

Re “A treasure is up for sale,” and “UCLA’s garden spot,” Editorial, Jan. 22

It is sad that UCLA has to sell off bits of its legacy to make ends meet. As funding dwindles for world-class public higher education, UCLA has no choice but to come up with creative ways to find additional sources of revenue.

It seems there is an obvious solution. UCLA just needs to collect an entrance fee from each of those 2,000 lucky souls who gain entrance to the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden each year.

In fact, if garden lovers were charged the same amount as the 2011-12 tuition increase to students ($1,068), in a little more than seven years, UCLA could collect its $15 million (the estimated revenue from selling the property) — and keep the garden.

Anne Tryba

La Cañada Flintridge

The two articles reveal an appalling situation in regard to UCLA’s Japanese garden, donated in 1964 to the university in exchange for a legally binding condition of continued maintenance “in perpetuity.”

This is totally immoral. If the donor had known this could or would happen on the basis that 48 years is a good approximation of perpetuity, he would have seen to it that his heirs got the property, and they would get the money.

Gerald Wayne Kimble

Ojai

Frequent-flier miles as income

Re “Tax man leaves fliers up in the air,” Column, Jan. 24

David Lazarus’ article regarding Citibank reporting credit card holders’ free frequent-flier miles to the IRS as income made me think that this might be a good time to donate those miles to charity.

One man who opened Citibank checking and savings accounts received 25,000 miles as a reward. Citibank reported them to the IRS as $645 in taxable income. If you donate the miles to charity, you could save money in taxes. It would be hard for the IRS to disallow the $645 donation.

Then, close the account.

Clay Wells

Balboa

When dealing with any tax matter, one must be able to discern “substantial authority” from “non-substantial authority.”

Substantial authority is tax law.

There currently is no law that says frequent-flier miles are taxable. Therefore, it is interesting that Citibank spokeswoman Catherine Pulley cites the instructions for the 1099-MISC form as the basis for the bank’s position.

Stephen A. Bonick

Beverly Hills

The writer is a certified public accountant.

Income inequality

Re “Republicans blast Obama’s policies as divisive, radical and ‘pro-poverty,’ ” Jan. 25

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ claim that Republicans “do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’” is completely false.

A 20-year study of its member countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the United States has the highest inequality and poverty after Mexico and Turkey, and that the gap has increased significantly since 2000.

Another study shows that the top 0.01% in the U.S. makes an average of $27 million per household, versus the $31,244 average income of the bottom 90%. Because tax rates applied to their income have fallen, the top 400 households enjoyed after-tax income increases of 476% between 1992 and 2007, based on IRS data.

Republicans controlled Congress for most of those years.

Ken Fermoyle

Woodland Hills

Republicans refer to President Obama’s policies as divisive. His policies are exactly the opposite.

Obama does not consider the wealthy to be the enemy, but the radicals in the Republican Party try to portray that as his viewpoint. Obama wants all Americans to be on the same team, with everyone pulling their fair share. How is that divisive?

Lorraine Knopf

Santa Monica

Press problems

Re “Ecuador’s war on the media,” Editorial, Jan. 23

It may be inconceivable to American newspaper editors, but not every journalist is loyal to the truth. In Latin America, many journalists are employed by the richest men in their countries, and they know their job often depends on protecting powerful business interests.

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has made historic strides in helping lift people out of poverty. But reading the large private newspapers in Ecuador, you wouldn’t know it. Ecuadoreans are provided a diet of lies to make them believe their president is a killer, thief and dictator.

If someone were accused by the New York Times of being involved in the deaths of Americans, they would have the right to sue. This is what Correa did, going so far as to testify at the trial. Ecuadorean courts have agreed that these were lies that broke the law.

Freedom of the press is not freedom to knowingly lie.

Matthew Glesne

Los Angeles


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