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Kamala Harris' views on prison reform; Fox News and climate change; end-of-life care

December 24, 2010

State's new top cop

Re: "Time may be right for Harris," Dec. 19

Those of us who worked with incoming state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris' campaign and turned out to give her those winning votes will be right there with this visionary to make the much-needed changes she advocates for California's criminal justice policies.

Perhaps Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who has sent dozens of people to death row and proudly pointed out the difference between his record and Harris', should take note as his own geographic voter base gave Harris the votes needed to win this statewide election. He should shift his vision, or L.A. County voters will find a new district attorney who reflects theirs.

Christine Thomas

Sacramento

Harris is not only smart about crime; she is also smart about California's economic problems.

Why shouldn't we put more money into education, which would cost much less in the long run than pouring that money down the drain into overcrowded prisons? Why not train prison guards to be parole officers?

This might help break the back of the prison guards union, whose incredible power has prevented meaningful reform.

Kris Sullivan

Los Angeles

Misinformation at Fox News

Re "Fox's unbalancing act," Editorial, Dec. 18

Kudos to The Times for scolding Fox News. Its denial of the climate science consensus is the worst kind of news masquerade.

The recent University of Maryland report, "Misinformation and the 2010 Election," found that Fox News viewers, compared with other news patrons, are the most misinformed about climate science.

We need to continually demand the highest journalism standards. More immediate fact checking would hold unethical "news" programs accountable. Americans and our politicians need the straight story, not a ratings race, to solve serious problems.

Amy Hoyt Bennett

Encinitas, Calif.

I find it ironic that you criticize Fox News for instructing reporters to avoid the phrase "public option" and use "government option" instead during the healthcare debate.

In the very next editorial you state that Gov.-elect Jerry Brown "will probably call for a revenue-raising initiative." Isn't a revenue-raising initiative the same thing as tax increase? Why don't you call it what it is?

You say that Fox News should come clean and stop pretending to be an objective news source. Perhaps The Times needs to look in the mirror.

Lea Osborne

Woodland Hills

At one time, I thought that news programs were inherently obligated to be objective. Turning on Fox News, I quickly realized that not only were they pushing their own agenda, but their coverage, at least for me, was tantamount to propaganda.

Unfortunately, Fox News is now a political force in itself, and an accessible political platform, for all those high-profile entities, especially conservative politicians, who willingly align themselves with Fox News.

It is very disturbing that this misrepresentation of factual analyses is perceived by so many Americans as unbiased news reporting. Even more disturbing is that these people vote.

Steven Lyle

Montrose

Media Matters accuses Fox News of bias? You have got to be kidding.

The incredible hypocrisy exhibited by individuals and organizations on both sides of the political spectrum never ceases to amaze me.

John C. McKinney

Cerritos

Easing the end of life

Re "Easing final choices," Dec. 19

As a nurse who works with seniors, it is heartbreaking to see patients not always being given the best information regarding end-of-life choices.

As a daughter whose mother recently received hospice care, it is heartwarming to see this message on The Times' front page.

I hope those in the medical community read this article and begin to speak earnestly with families about the importance of choices. It is time for families to also have this discussion and to know the wishes of their loved ones.

Quality of life versus quantity of life is an important decision for all to consider.

Cynthia Bowers

Fountain Valley

Dr. David Wallenstein is doing truly noble work. As the population ages, and the need for humane, rational advice regarding end-of-life decisions becomes more acute, physicians such as Wallenstein must become respected, integral members of a patient's health management team.

For patients to make informed decisions about their own care, they must know what all their options are — including the option of "doing nothing" (other than alleviating pain and maximizing comfort).

Beryl E. Arbit

Encino

Preparing for DREAM Act

Re "DREAM mustn't die," Editorial, Dec. 21

Three conditions should be met before Americans support the DREAM Act:

First, Congress must show it is serious about confronting future illegal immigration by requiring workplace verification with the E-Verify program.

Second, California's community colleges must prove they can accommodate tens or hundreds of thousands of new students the act envisions.

Third, the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services must convince us it is capable of vetting the papers of DREAM applicants.

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