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

September 3, 2009 |  1:37 pm

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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