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Dream on

January 01, 2006

LOOKING BACK ON OUR WISH LIST for 2005, we have little reason to cheer. Donald Rumsfeld is still manning his post at the Pentagon. CD packages are still impossible to open. Hollywood is still feuding with Silicon Valley. Among our few scores: Israeli settlements in Gaza were dismantled on schedule, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) plans to rescind his ban on federal funds for subway tunneling along Wilshire Boulevard.

But a new year offers new hope, so here is our wish list for 2006.

* Enough progress in training Iraqi forces and security personnel to allow for a significant reduction of American forces.

* A massive judging scandal in the figure-skating competition in the upcoming Winter Olympics to serve as global water-cooler fodder.

* A comprehensive plan by the city to improve conditions in downtown L.A.'s skid row, involving more than just police sweeps to clear out the drug dealers. An end to the dumping of parolees and mentally ill people downtown would be nice too.

* Less Paris Hilton; more Naomi Watts.

* A breakthrough in the Doha round of trade talks that will liberalize global trade in agricultural goods.

* A large-scale experiment by the major record companies in selling downloadable songs in the MP3 format, without the electronic locks that treat every customer like a thief. We'd settle for an end to the labels' flirtation with CDs that cannot be copied or transferred to an iPod.

* An NFL team for Los Angeles. But, please, not the New Orleans Saints.

* A decision by Arnold Schwarzenegger on what kind of governor he wants to be in time for the next election. Nelson Rockefeller? Ronald Reagan? Jesse Ventura? Or he could decide he doesn't want to be governor after all; anything but the current shape-shifting. We'll settle for civil relations between the governor and the Legislature, meaning less name-calling and more horse-trading.

* Not to be brazenly self-interested about it, but how about a new trend among 18-year-olds: newspaper reading.

* More spending by industrialized nations on fighting malaria, a devastating but entirely curable disease, in the Third World. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is sadly underfunded, particularly because many nations (including the United States) favor less-effective bilateral aid programs.

* More left-only turn signals on Wilshire. And on Beverly, Santa Monica and all other major thoroughfares in L.A., for that matter.

* A Medicare drug plan that does not produce headache, nausea, aggravation and pure bewilderment on the part of its participants.

* A 42-inch flat-panel high-definition TV for less than $1,000.

* Power and water restored to all of the areas darkened by hurricanes Katrina and Rita by the time Mardi Gras crewes start prancing through the French Quarter.

* An effort by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dust off the "road map" to peace after their national elections.

* The new Supreme Court, whatever its makeup, to maintain the pragmatism and respect for women's rights that characterized rulings by departing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

* The U.S. to make the semifinals at next summer's soccer World Cup in Germany.

* A city program to fix L.A.'s crumbling sidewalks, much like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's recent crusade against potholes. We'd settle for a program in which the city splits the cost of sidewalk repairs with homeowners.

* The Dow Jones industrial average to surpass 11,000. Enough seesawing already.

* Stronger measures to reduce emissions at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the biggest polluters in Southern California.

* For the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame to stop ignoring hip-hop and nominate a hip-hop artist to join its ranks (if Miles Davis, why not Grandmaster Flash?).

* A one-year moratorium on Washington's attacks on the national parks, forests and wilderness areas, particularly the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We'd settle for moderate Republicans continuing to join with Democrats to shoot down the worst of the anti-park proposals.

* A revival of the attempt to extend the Green Line light-rail line to LAX.

* The premiere of "CSI: Inland Empire."

* The capture of Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. We'd settle for Iraqi terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi.

* A reexamination by the Legislature, and possibly by the voters, of the death penalty in California. We'd settle for a moratorium on executions.

* A hybrid car that looks sexier than a Prius but gets better mileage than green SUVs such as the hybrid Ford Escape (36 mpg city).

* For President Bush to move toward a more conciliatory, centrist approach during his final years in office. And that he's able to persuade a few congressional Republicans to join him.

* A calmer Lou Dobbs, CNN's fiery spokesman for protectionism and closed borders, and calmer discourse on immigration generally.

* Higher goals from Los Angeles public schools, prodded by Villaraigosa's efforts to take control of the district.

* Downloadable Hollywood movies that can purchased and burned onto a DVD. There are plenty of ways to do this illegally, so why are there no legal options?

* A legislative plan to fix the state's structural deficit. No dramatic reform is needed -- all the tools are there already -- it just takes political will. Lawmakers need to cut spending and raise taxes, temporarily if necessary.

* Peace between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

* A ban on the phrases "war on Christmas" and "step up" (except when used by baseball announcers). While we're at it, we could stand to see less of the acronym MSM for the mainstream media.

* An iPod that facilitates travel through time.

* A cure for the common hangover (especially after last night).

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