The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on July 30, 1986 · 26
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 26

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Wednesday, July 30, 1986
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4 Pan II VfdiKvI.i.Jul 30. 1986 Cos Angeles (Times Pog Angeles Slimes A Turn Mirror Nrenfiaprr l'uhlihtrs HARRISON CRAY OTIS, 1882-191? HARRY CHANDLER. 1917-1944 NORMAN CHANDLER, 1944-1960 OTIS CHANDLER, 1960-1980 TOM JOHVSON. I'uhlahtr and ( hkflxniunr Ofjiirr DONALD F. W RIGHT, I'mideM and Chief Operating flffhrr WILLIAM F. THOMAS, hlilarand urumr Ikr Vj-uJch VANCE 1- STICK ELL, Ktmitnr Ikr Itnklcnl. Marketing LARRY STRITTON, Fxeculiir ikr IVrsident. Optralkms Letters to The Times JAMES I). BOSM ELL, i kr I'rrsident. I mpkim and I'uhlk- Ri-LiIkhis W ILLIAM A. NIESE, Vicr President and tirneral Counvl JAMES B. SHAFFER, ikr President, tlnantrand Manning GEORGE J. COTLIAR, Managing Miu ANTHONY DAY, Mitorofthe Editorial Pages JEAN SHARLEY TAYLOR. Associate Vjlittw Faulty Contest The National Science Foundation is trying to decide whether to put a national earthquake research center in New York or California. It seems to us that this is like trying to decide whether to do volcano research in Hawaii or Hackensack. But apparently the foundation needs persuading, and California certainly should make its best case. The research center would provide a central organization to tackle earthquake engineering problems and to encourage government and private industry to speed up their programs to reduce earthquake hazards. The science foundation plans to spend $5 million a year, and expects the state that wins to match that grant. Gov. George Deukmejian has signed an appropriation of $3 million for the center; a consortium of universities that includes UC Berkeley, Cal-tech, Stanford and USC has pledged an additional $2.4 million. The New York group, headed by the State University of New York at Buffalo, apparently has pledged $5 million for each of the first two years of center operations. New York's firmer financing might make it attractive to the foundation, but it is hard to believe that California would fail to follow up with a second year's funds. Besides, money isn't everything. California already is a world center of earthquake research. Part of that leadership, according to Caltech Prof. Wilfred Iwan, chairman of the California Seismic Safety Commission, includes: Design of the first strong-motion data recorders and maintenance of their first records. Construction of the first large-scale shaking table for testing building designs. Development of the first building codes based on dynamic structural behavior. The first studies of soil liquefaction. The first state laws requiring rehabilitation of hazardous structures. The NSF review committee will be in California next week. Common sense says that it would decide to locate a major earthquake research center in California. But if common sense isn't enough, the science foundation should consider the fact that California has unmatched resources for this research. Outstanding seismologists, structural engineers and other specialists have long been attracted to the state because let's face it there's something here to study. If California is selected, the National Science Foundation and the American people will get far more than $5 million worth of value in return. No price tag can be put on the decades of expertise already resident at Caltech, Berkeley, Stanford and USC, and among the government and industry people who would participate. Californians also have a vested interest in keeping the research on track; they have to live with the results. Wrong Signal on AIDS It is altogether too bad that Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed the bill that would have tried to prevent AIDS patients from being fired or denied housing except where there was a legitimate and demonstrable health risk. The legislation had the support of, among others, the California Medical Assn., the California Manufacturers' Assn., the Assn. of California Life Assurers and the American Red Cross. In his veto message the governor argued that the legislation was not necessary. The state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which oversees anti-discrimination laws, does consider AIDS, like all other medical ailments and diseases, a handicap falling under the anti-discrimination laws, but the question is not legally settled in the state's administrative and judicial case law. The vetoed bill would have put AIDS on the same footing as, for instance, tuberculosis and cancer. As the organizations and legislators who supported the bill know, the AIDS issue is in the largest sense a political issue: The question is the attitude that the state of California is going to take toward the victims of this dread disease. In all normal social situations, including work, there is no danger at all of catching AIDS from a person with the disease. A number of cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have adopted ordinances prohibiting discrimination against AIDS victims. Those laws serve both to reassure the victims of AIDS and to deter those who would persecute them. You can count on the common sense and the common decency of the vast majority of Californians to yield neither to panic nor to vindictiveness. It would have strengthened them to have had the full and explicit force of state law with them. The governor's veto removed that extra shield. Afghanistan Bleeds On Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, announcing plans for a token withdrawal of about 6,000 Soviet troops from Afghanistan, said this week that the Kremlin wants to speed a political settlement that would allow the withdrawal of all Soviet forces from that torn and bleeding land. It is conceivable that this is a breakthrough. Unfortunately, though, Gorbachev gave no indication that he is prepared to make the kind of concessions that a political solution requires. Gorbachev's speech coincided with the resumption in Geneva of negotiations, through a United Nations intermediary, between Pakistan from whose territory Afghan guerrillas operate and the Soviet-imposed government of Afghanistan. Washington and Moscow are indirect participants. The Soviets enjoy an overwhelming military superiority over the guerrillas. In the long run the Soviets, who have about 115,000 troops in Afghanistan, probably can wear down resistance and take control of the country. But the guerrillas still control large areas of Afghanistan, and the Soviets obviously must pay a heavy price for many years. About 10,000 Soviet soldiers have died so far. The U.N. General Assembly, reflecting the anger of Muslim nations, regularly demands the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The occupation of Afghanistan is a major obstacle to the better relations that Moscow seeks with Washington and Peking. Gorbachev has indicated several times that the Soviet Union would welcome a political settlement. But it is still not clear that he will accept peace on anything but his own terms. 1 Considerable progress, in fact, has been made in the U.N. -sponsored negotiations that began in 1982. But they have bogged down over the pace of a Soviet troop withdrawal and the related question of political power-sharing after the Soviets leave. Outsiders know that it is unrealistic to expect the Soviets to withdraw unless they are assured that Afghanistan will not become an anti-Soviet bastion. But the Afghan people are not obliged to accept rule by Moscow-appointed stooges as a permanent condition. As President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan said last winter, Afghanistan should become "a free, neutral and Islamic state friendly towards the Soviet Union." So far that hasn't been good enough for the Soviets, who demand a guaranteed end to the guerrilla war but refuse to go beyond vague promises of political participation by refugees who return to Afghanistan. If Gorbachev is seriously interested in a settlement, it should not be impossible to reconcile legitimate Soviet security concerns with the right of the Afghan people to run their own affairs. Small Wonder In the Middle Ages scholars wondered how many angels would fit on the head of a pin. This puzzle was never satisfactorily answered. But as the result of a recent technological advance at Stanford University we now know that the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica would comfortably fit there. In 1960 Richard Feynman, the Caltech physicist, offered a $1,000 prize to anyone who could make a printed page 25,000 times smaller while still allowing it to be read. A Stanford graduate student, Tom Newman, has now done it, and Feynman has paid him the grand. Newman's technique is based on the same technology that is used to imprint electronic circuits on those tiny computer chips that are everywhere. Newman uses several electron beams to trace letters made up of dots that are 60 atoms wide. The resulting text can be read with an electron microscope. Some technological advances bring instant rewards to humanity, while some have no practical use at least for the moment. They are just amazing. In the latter category, chalk one up for Tom Newman, with an assist from Richard Feynman. U.S. Policy in Central America Your editorial (July 20). -Che Lives," contended that "The United States is proving a basic tenet of the revolutionary left that the transformation of Latin American society can be defined only in terms of the United Slates as the Archenemy." You were critical of the present Administration and went back to President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress to find an example of an attempt "to change historical U.S. attitudes." You did not have to go back that far, a more recent attempt was made by the bipartisan Commission on Central America appointed by President Reagan. This commission studied the problems of Central America and recommended economic assistance similar to the Alliance for Progress. The chairman of that commission, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, also addressed the question of "profound social reform" that, according to your editorial, now has the endorsement of the Roman Catholic Church. Kissinger wrote, "The diplomacy to deal with Central America must be part of a new approach to the Western Hemisphere as a whole. The United States must make a more wholehearted commitment to the aspirations for growth and democracy in the region if it is to live in a constructive relationship with the forces liberated by the new wave of democracy. And in doing so it will serve not only its own national interest but the cause of freedom." The Reagan Administration endorsed the report but must have found it easier to spend millions of dollars for military assistance than for economic aid. It should be noted, however, that the Reagan Administration supported the revolution in Nicaragua until it was usurped by communists. According to your editorial, Reagan has reverted to the historical U.S. attitudes. Either you are correct or have not understood Reagan's objectives. In any case it is evident that the Reagan Administration has not presented a clear picture of its objectives in Central America. Reagan's talks have been inadequate, it is now time for action. Let me suggest the following: 1 Remove the implementation of U.S. policy in Central America from the responsibility of the CIA and give it to the Peace Corps.. We must emphasize that our policy is not conira-revolutionary but only to assist the people of Nicaragua in regaining control of their revolution. The CIA action supporting an undisciplined gang of thugs called contras in guerrilla warfare against ' the people of Nicaragua is clearly counterproductive. Our model should be the action of the people of the Philippines supported by the Roman Catholic Church and not the military action of the U.S.S.R. in Afghanistan. 2 Provide political, economic and, if necessary, military support for the Contadora countries attempting to achieve a diplomatic solution. Even if Nicaragua fails to agree, the unification of the other countries behind common objectives would constitute a major factor in stabilizing the area. We must, to use Kissinger's terms, "Latinize" the process, demonstrating that our objective is to help not to impose our solutions in your terms to allow Latin America the freedom and dignity to which it is entitled. E.C. PERRY Palm Springs Certainly President Kennedy's much -lamented Alliance for Progress was "in part a victim of Vietnam, in part of historical diffidence," as pointed out in your thoughtful editorial. I submit, however, that it was the awful fiasco of the Bay of Pigs that had the most direct and devastating consequences for the alliance. In the wake of that incredible event, a triumphant Fidel Castro boasted that he would export his revolution to the rest of Latin America. Official Washington panicked. I know, because I was there as a country desk officer in the State Department. Overnight "No More Cubas" became and remainsthe watchword of our policy for Latin America. The Kennedy Administration, which had eagerly cultivated the "democratic left" throughout Latin America in order to promote the Alliance for Progress, suddenly had a new priority. Our military aid program for Latin America was quickly reoriented to the new concept of counterinsurgency (meaning, don't bother to look abroad for your enemies when you can find them right at home), and its budget was drastically increased. It did not take the Latin American military long to realize that they had become indispensable in our new scheme of things, and they proceeded to overthrow or intimidate a number of the democratic governments that Kennedy had hoped would adopt the alliance's economic and social reforms. One f.Tn: I jrgja v - j -.'--. J ... ,Jte T b,icndh The xtlr- ,J1 1 (tim9 jrtrr-." are nrw F" rt ' ,1 nfjK. irf iw De used hn.v? ut we -'" tj am rl)rl Servlfo If-Vi-. Vfr- (! L r. A, .,(--, T.., Urru Soue. Los Afjeei. LA yuA3 notable casualty was that of President Juan Bosch of the Dominican Republic, a Kennedy favorite. Because of the apparent vagaries and contradictions of Kennedy's Latin America policy, it is hardly surprising that the Alliance for Progress came to be widely perceived by the Latinos as a cynical device to bribe them to side with us in isolating Castro. Its idealistic inspiration and its limited achievements were soon forgotten, as the Cold War once again prevailed. MARSHALL PHILLIPS Long Beach Of all the editorials The Times has published in opposition to the Reagan Administration's destructive policies in Central America, none has been more eloquent than the one published on July 20. In this editorial a point was made that is too often neglected in this country's discussion of its historical behavior toward Latin America in general and its current behavior toward Central America in particularthat this behavior often brings about and subsequently aids and abets the very revolutionary and political forces that the United States is attempting to thwart. Inevitably, democracy is thwarted also, as repressive right-wing dictators are installed and kept in power by the United States to do its bidding in keeping leftist revolutionary and political forces at bay and protecting the interests of American multinational corporations. The people who pay the biggest price for this, of course, are the poor and helpless who make up the bulk of the populations of these countries. Alas, this is all lost on the policy-makers in Washington, as they continue the nation's run on this time-worn treadmill, which will produce the same, inevitable tragic results. MARCIA SIMONSON Los Angeles Congratulations on your insightful well-thought editorial. But is anybody listening? Certainly not the Administration, nor the Congress, not even the public. Despite overwhelming public opinion against the Administration's policy in Central and South America the Congress has kowtowed to the President and the public holds our officials blameless, as if the U.S. policy was being directed by some outside forces. Some things are unacceptable regardless of partisan politics. In this case it is the stupidity of our people in allowing continued U.S. intervention, which inevitably will push groups such as the Sandinistas closer toward reliance on Soviet help, thereby justifying greater U.S. intervention a vicious circle of stupidity! The public's stupidity is only exceeded by the Administration's. Yet in a nation of blindness who is to say the emperor has no clothes. DAVID L. KEELER Anaheim Hope's Joke One of the delights of Liberty Weekend, as many observers of the national celebration have pointed out, is the knowledge that the Statue of Liberty managed to rise above all attempts at trivialization. Unfortunately, Bob Hope's attempt at humor was the only exception. He shocked an audience with a tasteless and offensive remark about Miss Liberty. Hope appeared before 360 guests, who paid $1,000 each for a July Fourth dinner and fireworks cruise aboard the yacht Princess. His so-called "joke" was about Miss Liberty having AIDS. Hope said, "Nobody knows if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Ferry." Those who did not groan in embarrassment sat silent in dismay. Hope's "joke" was worse than obscene. It was abusive and unworthy. He should not have to be reminded that profanity and he was profane is the refuge of in-sensitivity. It is both sad and shameful that a man who many have considered a national treasure should think it would be funny to besmirch Miss Liberty on her 100th birthday with the kind of glibness and vulgarity that, in truth, only brings discredit to him in the evening of his years as an entertainer. The Statue of Liberty survived all of the hoopla, slogans and souvenirs of the weekend and it will also survive the morally crude and indecent language of Bob Hope. The Statue came through everything with its dignity intact. Regrettably, that is more than can be said for Bob Hope. JOHN H. BUNZEL Stanford Bunzel is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Perceiving Justice It seems strange thul justice. !ik-lcauiy. is perceived (inly in ih eyes of the lieholder. The U.S. Supreme Court rec-ent! y gave an indefinite stay of execution to two men in Florida who hud been convicted of heinous, multiple murders, on the eve of their dates of execution. Seven of these justices arc Republican appointees, normally conservative in their views, with only two of them harboring any strong feelings relative to capital punishment. Yet this otherwise conservative court granted indefinite stays to the perpetrators of the aforesaid crimes. There was no outbreak of cries for "impeachment." "get rid of them." "they are not obeying the law." I sincerely believe that the vultures here in California, who are so desperately eager to replace Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and her two colleagues, purely on the basis of their alleged opposition to capital punishment, might learn a valuable lesson from the above action of our Supreme Court. The highest court in the land obviously based its decision on constitutional grounds and not on its feelings about capital punishment. Yet when the California Supreme Court overturns a capital case there's a hue and cry for the head of Rose Bird. The action of the U.S. Supreme Court justifies the reason for its existence. Our Founding Fathers wisely and fully realized the necessity for protecting the citizen on the street from the overpowering and frightening weight of the government, especially when the government overstepped its lawful bounds. The judiciary then, and now, was and is the only reliable and constant restraint against wholesale tyranny on the part of the government andor its agencies. To permit these unprecedented attacks on our judiciary in California by the executive department of government to succeed and to place judicial decisions in the hands of politicians, would mean to destroy the "checks and balances" so carefully included in the Constitution and to make this a state controlled by men and not by law! Justice Bird epitomizes the need for a person with her incisive judicial mind and the "guts" to persevere against the insidious right-wing attacks on the very heart of our democratic way of life. We need her; let's work for her and let us all vote for her! ALLAN A. FISI1MAN La Mesa Eos Angeles Slimes Daily Founded Dec. 4, 1881 Business and Editorial Offices TimM Mirror Square. 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