Wednesday, January 18, 2006

News of the Day

Here are some instant reactions to the lead stories on the first page of today's Los Angeles Times, presented without having read much more than the headlines and perhaps a few paragraphs.

1- "Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Right-To-Die Law"
A complicated and contentious issue. With proper safeguards, it may very well be a compassionate option in some cases. In this case, the then-US Attorney General John Ashcroft attempted to define what is proper medical care - which was beyond his authority. A good decision. One of the three dissenters, by the way, is the new Chief Justice, John Roberts.

2 - "Is California Next in Line?"
A sidebar to the first story, this explores the chances of passing an assisted suicide law here in California. Again, the validity of this law depends upon the safeguards written into the law itself (whatever that may be).

3 - "'Tomato King' Has a Few Hurled at Him"
A successful tomato farmer in California returns to his hometown in Mexico and wins the race for mayor. His opponents keep up their attacks even after the election. Is he corrupt as they say, or the victim of prejudice because of his success in America? Either way, this focuses on the cultural divide between the US and Mexico. Mr. Bermudez, the 'Tomato King' learned how to succeed in America over three decades. He learned, in fact, the American Dream. Apparently this does not neccessarily translate. Either his tactics are being misunderstood, or he hasn't learned to adjust the lessons of success in America to the cultural subtlties of Mexican society.

4 - "SF Airport Set for the Big One"
No, not the earthquake, but the Airbus A380, the huge new passenger. San Francisco has built an entirely new terminal to accomadate the jet and its 555 passengers. Meanwhile LAX is stuck in ongoing intertia. Two gates at the already cramped international terminal at LAX will be altered for the jet, but it may not be enough. This story points out for me an ongoing lack of forward thinking by many of our elected officials. Some of our infrastructure is at risk here, with few solutions in sight. Our quality of life in Los Angeles, I believe, is beginning to slide ever more rapidly. We'll leave that topic for an upcoming blog (very soon).

5 - "If You Want It, Forget It"
This column analyzes the process by which the United Nations will choose the next secretary-general next year. Like the Pope, the potential candidate should not be seen as coveting the job, or they will likely not be elected. The article points out the intense secrecy by which a candidate is chosen (again, like the Pope). The United Nations isn't the Vatican, however, in that it can be said to represent the interest of every human being on earth. Taking that into consideration, I tend to understand the importance of keeping this process secret. This is an international decision that is being made off the international stage.

6 - "Lawmakers May Have to Fund Own Trips"
With a Lobbying scandal spreading across Washington, both parties are jockeying for position. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican, is proposing doing away with all travel paid for my private groups. It's a very popular perk - and one that shouldn't have ever been allowed. He's also proposing that limits be put on gifts lawmakers may accept, and how long a former lawmaker or staffer must wait before they can take the role of a lobbyist. These are all the sorts of things that should never have been allowed, and I suspect that such bans will never be encacted, or else will be gutted and made easy to circumvent. This isn't something to place on Rupublicans or Democrats - it's been around for a long time. I find it offensive and hypocritical that the same politicians who benefited from these quirks have suddenly seen the light. Where were they while Congress was being highjacked? By the racket they're making about reform, I suspect they were conspriing with the highjackers.

7 - "City Can't Bar Cell Towers on Looks Only, Court Says"
Looks vs. progress. Cell Phone towers are ugly. Convenience of service is important for cell phone users, and is important for business. La Canada Flintridge has been told by the US 9th Cicuit Court of Appeals that it can't deny building permits on public rights of way for purely aestheitc reasons. I can't entirely agree, in this case. I think that they should have that right. I also think that they should have presented a compromise to the cell phone companies, challenging them to create more visually unobtrusive cell phone towers. Again, my initial reaction is to wonder where the forward-thinking, visionary leadership was in that city. I would hope that the cell phone companies will take into account the sensitivity of this particular city and work with them to create acceptable towers.

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