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Birthright citizenship; Cuba, the U.S. and terrorism; unrest in Tunisia

January 18, 2011

Words and deeds

Re "Talking about talk in Tucson," Column One, Jan. 13.

Jon Justice, a Tucson talk-show host, says, "Ultimately it's the responsibility of the individual to take that, whatever they see, and do with that what they want." He seems to believe that people grow up in isolation from society.

If one looks at scientific studies, there is the widely known example of "running amok," which is a culture-specific syndrome. We have the culture-specific syndrome of shooting as many people as possible before being stopped. This was something that wasn't part of our culture until the Texas tower sniper shot so many people in 1966.

Anyone who thinks that words have no influence on people in our society should look at the advertising industry. So I add my pleas to those of millions of others: Let's get rid of the violent messages and discuss politics in civilized ways.

Sherry Bendall

Aliso Viejo

We've heard from politicians and pundits on whether vitriolic speech can lead to violence. But those are only opinions from lay people whose objectivity is unknown.

We need to hear from professionals such as psychologists, social scientists and others, who could give us reliable answers free of politics.

Thomas Mann

Pasadena

Redefining citizenship

Re "Who's a citizen?," Editorial, Jan. 13

It seems logical that there should be a way to distinguish between the children of illegal immigrants who deliberately cross the border to give birth and those who were born of a legally registered immigrant who gives birth while on U.S. soil.

Because the 14th Amendment makes no distinction, the government should find some legal way to preclude birthright citizenship. Rewording the amendment or reinterpretation makes sense. Now, a legal right (citizenship) can be achieved by an illegal act.

Richard Spaniardi

Porter Ranch

Your statement on the John G. Roberts Jr. court in the looming battle over who is protected under the 14th Amendment — that "precedent surely would lead the Supreme Court to strike them down" — is hopelessly naive. Roberts and his allies have been conveniently ignoring precedent when it comes to towing the Republican line.

The court has become a wishing well for conservatives.

Bill Yoak

Garden Grove

Congress should act to end birth citizenship for three reasons. First, no Supreme Court case has dealt directly with the offspring of illegal immigrants and the question of automatic citizenship. Second, the Constitution gives Congress the power to decide national immigration policies. And third, during the debate on the 14th Amendment in 1866, a senator who helped draft the amendment said it would "not of course include persons born in the United States who are foreigners."

Eliminating birth citizenship would help deter illegal immigration and reduce the burden on taxpayers.

Rep. Lamar Smith

(R-Texas)

The writer is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The tale, and trial, of an exile

Re "Cuba spy's trial seen as a maneuver," Jan. 13, and "Exile on trial," Opinion, Jan. 12

The authors of the Op-Ed article mention that Cuba remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism primarily because it is, in the words of the State Department, "critical of the U.S. approach to combating international terrorism."

This is to say the least. It would be more accurate to say that Cuba considers the United States to be a sponsor of terrorism. Fidel Castro has made this clear on many occasions.

Could this be why Luis Posada Carilles is being charged only with immigration fraud and perjury? To charge him with terrorism might raise uncomfortable questions about who was directing and financing his crimes. The CIA has admitted to recruiting and training him.

It is clear that the Obama administration has no interest in accepting responsibility for complicity in terrorism, or torture for that matter. This is just one more case in point.

Urmas Franosch

Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

The trial of Posada is a necessary first step in ensuring that the United States is coherent in its condemnation and prosecution of terrorists.

Our political and judicial institutions should not provide sanctuary to a confessed murderer, even if he shares our political ideology.

Nestor M. Fantini

Northridge

No saint

Re "John Paul II to be beatified," Jan. 15

Pope John Paul II's beatification in May is most perplexing considering the sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church that was perpetrated under his 27-year papacy. It is prideful arrogance for the Vatican to elevate him. Perhaps it is retaliation for all the criticism the church has rightfully earned.

It is inconceivable that there can be so many Catholics in denial about the evil revealed in all the tragic accounts of molested and raped children. Catholics of conscience do not honor his elevation to sainthood.

Whatever his accomplishments and good works, they have been negated by putting the image of the church above the protection of children.

Barbara Lorenz

La Jolla

On Tunisia

Re "Tunisia unrest forces leader to flee," Jan. 15

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