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The Taliban attacks a Kabul hotel; the TSA's rules; UC fears of a brain drain

July 04, 2011

Message received

Re "Taliban sends a message with Afghan hotel attack," June 30

The photo accompanying the piece on the Taliban attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan is eloquent. A foreign fighter, haggard and bloodied, confronts the camera, while the apparent Afghan "fighter" to his right hides his face, perhaps fearing he'll be recognized by his fellow "citizens."

Afghanistan has thousands of years of history and a roughly 70% illiteracy rate. The fighting there is a proxy war between Pakistan and India.

That a majority of Americans think it's not worth one more drop of our young peoples' blood is surprising only to the politicians who got us embroiled in the first place.

Michael Jenning

Van Nuys

A delicacy we can do without

Re "Shark fin soup debate divides a community," June 29

The "battle" over shark fin soup need not be a battle at all. The argument advanced by opponents of a ban — namely that shark-fin soup is part of Asian tradition — is completely facetious. It was perhaps a tradition but, until very recent times, one that was restricted to a tiny number of wealthy Chinese.

Its consumption is not an indication of the innate deliciousness of shark fins but rather a statement of status and wealth. Today almost every Chinese person can afford to dine on shark fins, and shark species are rapidly going extinct.

The ban on shark fin soup is morally and ethically justified.

Rod Nelson

Burnaby, Canada

The oceans are being assaulted from pollution, overfishing and neglect. A healthy — and indeed just an existing — shark population must be maintained to ensure a food supply for the entire planet. One culture cannot destroy the oceans and go against the rest of humankind for a bowl of soup.

Cultural heritage is not a reason to continue this destructive practice. This country engaged in and supported the cultural heritage (to some) of slavery. Slavery should never have been allowed, and it continued for far too long.

Matthew Hetz

Los Angeles

UC brain drain could get worse

Re "UC is losing talent to deeper pockets," June 29

The departure to greener pastures of tenured University of California faculty is indeed a major issue. However, the article underemphasizes two related issues.

First, the grants these faculty take with them employ many individuals, from entry-level research assistants to highly skilled technical workers. In my lab alone we employ more than 40 people whose work depends on grants.

Second, in addition to senior faculty we are losing the opportunity to recruit the best and brightest new young faculty. Last month I lost out on recruiting a young researcher who had just finished his postdoctoral work at Stanford in wireless health technologies, considered a key element of our region's economic future. UC San Diego could not come up with a competitive salary and benefit plan.

Run this model into the future and it's pretty clear where it leads.

Kevin Patrick, MD

La Jolla

The writer is a professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

It's been this way for years. In the early 1950s, when I was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, professors did the same thing. It helps to spread the talent around and makes the organizations and individuals more valuable.

I worked in the aerospace industry, making several position changes along the way. My experience at North American Aviation and Aerojet-General helped considerably in solving U.S. Air Force space systems problems when I became an engineering manager at the Aerospace Corp.

Changing jobs in academia and industry can be beneficial for all.

George Epstein

Los Angeles

It appears to me that despite their outstanding accomplishments in the fields of physics and cancer research, Lakers star Kobe Bryant makes more money than these three scientists combined.

Too bad the professors never learned to dribble and shoot a basketball.

Jeremiah Flanigan

Long Beach

The TSA and its many rules

Re "Woman has to remove diaper for pat-down," and "Rage against the TSA," Opinion, June 28

Despite my careful preparations, including a detailed letter from my doctor, for carrying on necessary medications on a flight to Paris last fall, I hit a snafu at L.A. International Airport with rude security screeners who were ignorant of Transportation Security Administration protocol.

My experience pales in comparison to the humiliating one of the ill 95-year-old woman who was required to remove her diaper. Seriously? And then the rote TSA response that they were just doing their jobs? Common sense? Nope. Intelligent discrimination in assessing passengers and perceived threats? Guess not.

Wake up fliers: These kind of events are happening at an airport near you.

Marilyn Moore Shultz

San Clemente

As someone who has logged more than 400,000 miles in the air during the last decade, and as someone who stood on the banks of the Hudson River on Sept. 11, 2001, and watched the twin towers burn, I thank God for the TSA and for all it has done to keep travelers safe.

Teresa Franklin


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