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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to restrict food stamp purchases; Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai; the reality of poverty in L.A.

October 21, 2010

Showing the way

Re "Breaking the pattern," Column One, Oct. 19

I want to commend you for an outstanding, inspiring report on the front page. We need examples like this to help people understand that prevention and intervention really are more cost effective than just putting more and more people in prison repeatedly.

And, when we intervene with mothers, we are interrupting patterns that affect whole communities.

I hope other judges will be inspired to be as wise and as firm as Judge Michael Tynan, and that we will fund more high-quality programs that enable people to

"break the pattern."

Linda Marten

Los Angeles

Disneyland as theater

Re "Disney should lead Muslim acceptance," Business, Oct. 17

I respectfully disagree with columnist Michael Hiltzik. The basic concept of Disneyland is to transport one to a world that is a fantasy. To make that happen, the company does not have employees; it has cast members. This allows Disneyland to create an atmosphere similar to a live theater performance. The job requires a costume; if you do not like the costume, don't take the job.

It is perfectly acceptable for one to object to the "cast member" policy for a variety of reasons. If that is your position, then do not patronize Disneyland.

Mike Maracci

Redondo Beach

Afghanistan's history lesson

Re "Mr. Medieval," Opinion, Oct.16

Historian Nancy Goldstone suggests that President Obama really needs a medieval historian sitting in on his next military planning session about Hamid Karzai and his favored family and entourage, who are ensconced in Kabul while the diligent Taliban warlords control the rest of Afghanistan and the production of opium — and wait to take over the capital.

Adding some historical understanding of a nation into which we continue to deposit millions of our tax dollars, month after month, sounds like a brilliant idea.

A question: Where were these historians a decade ago when President George. W. Bush and his arrogant neocons were holding their own military planning sessions, preparing to bring "freedom and democracy" to Iraq — to be followed, as night follows day, by the rest of the Middle East?

June Maguire

Mission Viejo

Food stamps for food, not sodas

Re "Wait a New York minute!" Editorial, Oct. 15

Few Times positions have been as baffling as your editorial decrying New York City's proposed restrictions on the use of food stamps to buy junk food.

Taking the argument well into the absurd, you ask, "What next? Outlawing corn chips with one's salsa?"

Do you really not distinguish between outlawing junk food and prohibiting the use of public funds to buy it?

Elsewhere, your piece acknowledges that "food stamps were created to ensure that everyone has at least enough food for basic nutrition." Requiring that food stamps be used to purchase reasonably nutritious food is entirely consistent with that principle.

Food stamp recipients have every right to buy snacks and soda, but not with taxpayer money.

Shelley Wagers

Los Angeles

If only the solving of chronic illnesses was so simple. Forcibly removing sugary drinks from grocery lists and expecting change is ludicrous.

I am a registered dietitian who consults with families, many of whom are low income and supplement their grocery purchases with food stamps.

What works: hands-on interventions in grocery stores and in kitchens, teaching the benefits of healthy food choices.

In 30 years of implementing change in food choices, one of the less effective ways I've found is to remove specific foods, beverages or ingredients from anyone's diet.

The mayor seems to think he can wave his magic wand over complex issues such as the obesity epidemic to simplify outcomes. It won't work.

Carol Berg Sloan

Long Beach

Hooray for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his forceful stance on better nutrition for all New Yorkers.

His latest proposal — to prohibit the use of food stamps to buy heavily sugared drinks — is an appropriate step toward bringing improved basic nutrition to those who need it most.

It is not worrisome, as The Times suggests, any more than requiring schoolchildren to have protective injections against disease, whether that medication is wanted or not.

With constant corporate advertising suggesting that sugary drinks bring fun, popularity and well-being, the mayor is correct to want taxpayer dollars to be directed to better nutritional use.

Harvey Barkan

Studio City

Poverty and the aging in L.A.

Re "Redefining poverty: The federal government's standard of need bears little relation to reality for many senior citizens, particularly in high-cost housing areas like Los Angeles," Oct. 17

Older adults in the Los Angeles region face the same squeeze that most of us in Southern California feel: the need for access to high-quality, affordable housing and usable transportation in proximity.

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