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Letters to the editor

Bicycles and L.A.; Tim Rutten on Climategate; a new home for Guantanamo detainees

December 17, 2009|Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Wheels are turning

Re "Shifting gears in L.A.," Opinion, Dec. 14

While living in Denmark for eight years, I owned a car for only about six months.

Your article makes it sound as if Danes are flocking to their bikes out of a superior duty to the environment. This is not correct. Danish taxes on cars and fuel are simply prohibitive and the public-transit system is superb. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to choose a bike or public transit.

In Denmark, I rode my bike to the train, then took a bus from the train to work. It took me about 20 minutes to travel the distance it takes me an hour to travel by car in Los Angeles. If I took public transit to my work in L.A., it would take 35 minutes to the end of the line, and then I would find myself still four miles from work, with no further public conveyance in sight.

L.A. needed an extensive train system 20 years ago. After 50 years of L.A. traffic, this is a quality-of-life issue for me.

Lisa Ann Carrillo
Woodland Hills

At a time when political leaders are crying for action to combat the recession and global warming, isn't it ironic that in Los Angeles our leaders have taken no action to support cycling?

The corporate headquarters of Electra Bicycles is in Vista. Felt Bicycles is in Irvine. Hollywood Racks is in L.A., along with the Anschutz Entertainment Group -- owner of the Tour of California. Team Columbia, one of the leading professional cycling teams, is headquartered in San Luis Obispo. Carson is home to America's only international standard indoor velodrome, which hosts annual international events and national championships. The advocacy organization Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (CICLE) is based here too.

We need political vision to encourage riding and at the same time create green jobs -- in an industry already residing in Southern California. Mr. Mayor, get on your bike and move L.A. into the future.

Nicholas Simon
Studio City

Climate and cash

Re "Close this climate 'gate,'" Opinion, Dec. 12

Tim Rutten asks, "So what are we to believe: that huge numbers of British and American scientists have entered into a conspiracy to dupe the world on climate change? Why? What would they stand to gain?"

This year the government is spending billions on climate research. Climatologists, biologists and environmental scientists of all kinds are reaping more in research grants than they have ever dreamed possible, as long as they put the words "global warming" in their grant requests.

People respond to incentives, and scientists are people.

Michael O'Guin
Rancho Santa Margarita

Guantanamo or Illinois?

Re "Detainees will move to Illinois site," Dec. 15

President Obama will buy a nearly empty maximum-security prison in Illinois -- for a yet-to-be-determined amount of taxpayers dollars -- to house from 35 to 90 Guantanamo detainees.

Is it to benefit Obama's home state? (Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn "plan to be in Washington for the announcement.") Is it to be able to claim that "the project would create more than 3,000 jobs"?

Although a huge waste of money and a huge danger to U.S. security, it may be the biggest job creation yet by this administration -- but even phonier and more temporary than the rest.

The biggest joke is the notion that this helps our troops and national security "by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of Al Qaeda." Right, moving that tool from Guantanamo into the U.S. heartland is a big help.

What a farce.

Charles K. Sergis
Redondo Beach

State secrets, pro and con

Re "Too much privilege," Editorial, Dec. 14

The Times rightfully argues that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should reject the Obama administration's state secrets claim in Mohamed vs. Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. and allow the case to proceed.

While campaigning, Obama denounced the Bush administration's overbroad secrecy claims that blocked lawsuits involving controversial national security policies from moving forward. But now that he is in office, Obama has failed to live up to his campaign promises to rein in such government secrecy.

But the problem extends beyond Jeppesen. The state secrets privilege needs legislative reform to safeguard the role of courts in evaluating the validity of executive branch claims for secrecy. Even a favorable 9th Circuit decision would be subject to further court challenges.

Congress should enact the pending State Secrets Protection Act to clearly establish that judges, and not the executive, have the final say on whether disputed evidence is subject to the privilege.

Sharon Bradford Franklin
The writer is senior counsel at the Constitution Project, a rights advocacy group.

The Times' muddled thinking on national defense issues is again exemplified by its untenable position that the Jeppesen case should proceed.

In urging that the 9th Circuit allow the case to continue, the editorial fails to address the obvious danger that state secrets may be revealed in the process.

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