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In today's pages: A coup in Honduras, graffiti in Los Angeles

Zelaya JEWEL SAMAD AFP Getty Images In today's Los Angeles Times opinion pages, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Los Angeles) writes about the coup in Honduras. There, he said it: Coup.

Official Washington is waiting for the State Department to determine if this summer's events in Honduras constitute a coup. Actions may speak louder than words, but in this case, one word alone could affect the course of democracy in the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. law requires that foreign assistance, with the exception of humanitarian and democracy-related aid, be suspended for "the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree." A formal determination by the State Department would trigger this suspension, whereas previous uses of the word "coup" by U.S. authorities have not. The matter will be on many minds today as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Luis J. Rodrigez, author of the L.A. classic "Always Running: La vida loca, Gang Days in L.A.," has something to say about City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's vow to crack down on graffiti:

City Atty. Trutanich, you don't have to take my word for this. It shouldn't be hard to find out how a helping hand instead of another injunction can work for thousands of young people who can also transform their lives, given the proper framework and mentoring many of us are willing to provide.
Let's work together to keep young people out of prison instead of pushing more and more of them behind bars. Community regeneration can be a reality for all our neighborhoods -- not through injunctions, but injections of hope.

The Times editorial board weighs in on the return of film to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and critiques the Obama administration's failure to depart, sufficiently, from the Bush standard on rendition.

Obama's interrogation policy will improve the United States' image among nations whose cooperation is vital in the struggle against terrorism. Sadly, the administration hasn't made a similarly clear break with the past in its new policy on the transfer, or "rendition," of suspected terrorists to countries with abysmal human rights records. Obama agrees with the task force that destination countries must offer credible assurances that prisoners won't be tortured, and that there should be "private access" to transferred prisoners. But it isn't clear whether such access would include visits by the Red Cross or other humanitarian agencies. Besides, once a prisoner is delivered to a repressive regime, U.S. leverage will be limited.
Putting those entitlements on a more sustainable path isn't as sexy as providing universal health insurance, saving troubled borrowers from foreclosure or reining in the financial institutions that ran amok during the housing bubble. But that task, like the slumping economy, is something Obama inherited when he won the White House. Congress can make a down payment of sorts by enacting a healthcare reform package with meaningful cost controls -- more meaningful than the ones in the current bills. But the longer it waits to solve the long-term problems in the federal programs for the elderly, the tougher the choices will be.

And last, but hardly least, columnist Meghan Daum analyzes the phenomenon of the tea-partying, Whole-Foods-shopping conservative.

Photo: Jewel Samad AFP/Getty/Images

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WitnessLA.com links to this as well, and blog hostess/USC professor Celeste Fremon notes she's a friend of writer Rodriguez and that he's well-respected in certain (I guess that means literary) circles for his writing. She too urges Trutanich to think about what he's doing. In an earlier posting in the same blog when the ill-advised injunction-by-association was announced, she wrote about it as "Trutanich, Taggers and the Madness of Really Bad Injunctions." She had met and talked with him when he was a candidate and is very disappointed. Worth reading.


Rodriguez has compelling things to say about cracking down on youths who, like him, were taggers but reformed and in his case, are model "upstanding citizens" including an articulate, published writer, all because he was treated with humanity and not with tough-talk bromines which is all Trutanich has shown on this and any other issue so far. Contrary to his clever promises as candidate, which clearly came from some campaign manager or team who tried to turn his utter lack of experience and lack of any work with such kids into a plus just to spite the mayor and the candidate who WAS in his past experience just who he said he is. The benefit of an experienced, tried and tested candidate.

Clearly this city made a huge mistake. (Then there's Trutanich's class action suit from marijuana vendors, because he's done an about-face on promises to medical marijuana vendors and patients, too, and his very public about-face from a solemn promise he made to Chick that he'd support her and her attorney's position on audits, and now calls her lawyer "just a loser" and is using a $150,000 legal fee as what she calls "smokescreen" to obscure fact that he lied to get her endorsement. Too.)

BUT this compelling Rodriguez editorial is about kids who ARE taggers, and obscures the fact that this poorly worded law is written to make it a crime to just associate with an alleged tagger, even if the second kid is just a neighbor and NOT a known tagger himself. Cops are authorized to bust anyone who "may be" or "look like he may be" a tagger, e.g. wearing baggy pants and "the uniform" of any known taggers. That's profiling, guilt by association, and a host of other things that someone versed in constitutional law -- even a law graduate of a decent school -- would know better than to try to write into law for a city as diverse and in the public eye as Los Angeles. This is just plain dumb.

Jaime Castano

Was it a coup d’etat?

I was in Honduras before the ousting of Zelaya and I experienced the tension and outrage of the majority of the people as Zelaya was implementing his referendum. Zelaya was acting against all the institutions and ignoring the prohibitions of the National Election Tribunal. It was Zelaya against the establishment. Nevertheless, I believe we need to determine whether or not the deposing of Zelaya was a coup.

My Webster Dictionary gives the following meaning to the word coup d’etat: “an attempt to overthrow a government by sudden, violent, illegal means.”

1. The ousting of Zelaya was not a secret action and not a coordinated effort of the democratically instituted agencies of government such as The National Election Tribunal, Congress, the Supreme Court and the Military. Each of these institutions acted according to their mandate, independent from each other, proving that the system of checks and balances actually worked in Honduras.

2. Was it violent? The ousting of Zelaya was not violent and the only reason the military decided to send Zelaya to Costa Rica instead of putting him in jail was to avoid mob confrontations and possible casualties. It is my understanding that while the military were carrying out this mission, an executive Judge was always present.

3. Was it illegal? The ousting of Zelaya was not illegal because in a 125 to 3 vote
the Honduran Congress approved to remove Mr. Zelaya from office. Also, the Supreme Court after a unanimous decision on June 26th issued an arrest warrant for
Mr. Zelaya and ordered his removal from office based on four charges.

a. Against the form of Government (acting against the establishment)
b. Treason
c. Abuse of authority
d. Usurpation

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the ousting of Mr. Zelaya as president of Honduras was not a coup d’etat, but a vibrant demonstration of a young democracy.

Jaime Castano
17402 Ficus Ct. Spring Tx.


The US has no business getting involved in other government's internal affairs. Somehow the US always thinks they have to police the world and stick its nose where it doesn't belong. The US government isn't ran by a bunch of boy scouts. Our government has covertly supported the overthrow of numerous governments such as Iran, Chile and Vietnam. Other atrocities such as the Gulf of Tonkin, attack on the USS Liberty, and the arms for Contras scandal show that our government can do things Americans would never approve of. Look what is happening to our nation as the US stretches our military globally while ignoring the needs of citizens at home. Our military can't defend the nation on the other side of the world. We are being invaded by foreign nationals! There are more than 20 million currently inside our borders, that's an act of war! Bring our troops home and defend our borders. I don't believe "the war on terror" at all. How can 19 Saudis with box cutters bring the most powerful nation on earth to its knees? It can't! I do believe that the military industrial complex loves the war on terror, it's perfect! A phantom enemy that will never be found and an ongoing war that will never end. How diabolical can you get. Do you really think Iraq and Afghanistan is a threat to the USA? HA!HA!HA! Mexico is a much bigger threat!



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