Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

Category: Sex

Condom rule: First step in porn master plan? [Ted Rall cartoon]

Proposals to require porn actors to wear condoms on screen are only the first step in porn reform, cracks Ted Rall in this week’s cartoon. First come the condoms, but where will the reform initiatives stop?

Some possibilities, Rall jokes: The Realistic Plot Act. The Aesthetics Equity Act. The Seduction Actualization Act. Or perhaps the Morning-After Visualization Act.

The editorial board has discussed the issue of porn actors wearing condoms in recent weeks, but the debate has hovered over who should enforce the law.

"Performers in adult films should be required to use condoms to protect themselves and others against the spread of HIV and AIDS. Enforceable state regulation would make the most sense; it would be preferable to see such a law adopted by the Legislature," the board wrote in a recent editorial, adding: “But sometimes cities must take the lead, even in workplace safety regulation, because Sacramento may lack the will or interest to protect workers. Los Angeles banned smoking in restaurants and bars to protect not merely the comfort of patrons but the health and safety of staff who otherwise were inhaling carcinogens each day. The move pressed the state to finally catch up.”

But back to Ted Rall. Here’s his take.  



Safe sex on the set 

Condoms in porn? What should we do?

Will L.A. take the initiative on condoms?

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Cartoon by Ted Rall / For The Times

Porn in the library: Censorship vs. decency

The Times' editorial board has been pondering the availability of pornography in the library, an issue that catches the public's eye every few months when one of the porn viewers misbehaves, or parents find it's hard for their children to browse the stacks without catching on eyeful. Most recently, it was the November arrest of a homeless man in the Laguna Beach library for allegedly fonding himself while viewing porn, with a crowd of seven other men around him. It's the advent of the Internet, of course, that creates this new scene in the library. Some parents in the town are now calling for the porn sites to be blocked.

Editorial writers and editors were as bothered as anyone else by the thought that an institution we revere as much as the public library -- remember that most journalists grew up with their noses in books -- was being used to view lurid photos. It was pointed out that, although librarians hotly defend against censorship of any kind, nonetheless they make value judgments all the time about what sort of materials should be available in libraries, by purchasing news and home magazines rather than nudie publications. On the Internet, though, porn is, like most things, free. Keeping it away from patrons involves an active step, just as it takes an active -- and costly -- step of purchasing pornography in print to make it available.

"Lady Chatterley's Lover" was once considered pornography, not just unsuitable for a library but illegal to sell in some countries a little more than half a century ago. Banning materials from the library because the majority of people find them distasteful is a dicey step. What might the majority find unsuitable next? Something that you want to read, perhaps? Yet all patrons to the library should be able to search for books and videos without patently offensive material shining across the room at them.

Whose rights matter more? 


Condoms in porn? What should we do?

Ex-porn star Sasha Grey in the classroom -- or not

Ted Rall cartoon: Municipal worker porn flicks we wanna see

Pornification of private parts: A new body dysmorphic disorder?

--Karin Klein

Photo: Camarillo Public Library. Credit: Los Angeles Times

The bigoted presidential campaign

KargerFunny that Fred Karger, gay rights advocate, founded the group Californians Against Hate, since his most recent campaign seems to be about spreading bigotry. For those who haven't heard of Karger -- and that's a lot of people -- he's a Republican candidate for president, listed on the ballot of the New Hampshire primary, who took on a more active political identity after California voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008. Karger is an openly gay candidate who was angered and dismayed by the role that the Mormon Church and its followers took in getting the ban on same-sex marriage passed. 

Negative campaigns and ugly smears might be the stuff of politics these days, but within this category, Karger gets a special space all his own after launching an attack website against Mormonism that purportedly reveals the 10 "craziest beliefs" of Mormons, lest voters consider voting for Mormon candidate Mitt Romney. The site doesn't actually have such a list; it's more a place where anyone can anonymously post any sort of canard about Mormonism. Perhaps rational people could also try inserting some truths, if those are actually allowed.

On the site, Karger writes:

We simply want to help understand Mormons and their beliefs, and have created this web site and blog to help enlighten you and us on the Mormon faith and it many ceremonies and rituals.

This web site is by no means meant to harm anyone or any faith.

Sure it isn't. That's why its title is so balanced.

Karger has his reasons for being at odds with Mormons and their religion; he also has reasons to seek out publicity at any cost, even the cost of religious bigotry.

But during the Proposition 8 campaign, he saw and heard plenty of hateful and false garbage spewed by some of the ban's supporters about and against gays and lesbians, their relationships and their children. Obviously, the lesson he drew from that wasn't what people thought when he founded Californians Against Hate, a phrase that apparently means something different to Karger than to most of the rest of us.


Ron Paul's naive promises

How the GOP can score with Latino voters

GOP candidates: Bashing judges, threatening democracy

--Karin Klein

Photo: Fred Karger, photographed in 2006. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times

Will L.A. take the initiative on condoms?

Andrea BloomThe Los Angeles city clerk is counting and verifying signatures in a petition filed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation to require the city to put an initiative on the June 5 ballot. The subject? Whether to adopt a new law to require performers in sexually explicit films to use condoms. If it qualifies, it would be the first initiative on the Los Angeles ballot since 1993.

Los Angeles is one of the first cities to adopt the voter initiative - city voters amended their charter in 1903 to permit the direct democracy reforms of initiative, referendum and recall that went statewide in California in 1911. Now the state has voter initiatives almost every election. But Los Angeles hasn't had one since the post-1992 riot era when then-mayoral candidate Richard Riordan circulated petitions to impose term limits on city elected officials. And by the way, contrary to popular belief, it was defeated. More on that below.

Sure, Los Angeles has a lot of ballot measures, year after year, but they are put to voters not by petition or popular uprising but by the City Council. Even items that seem like they arose from voter revolts are generally recrafted by the council. So, for example, this year's popular measure to impose an Office of Public Accountability and a ratepayer advocate on the Department of Water and Power was a City Council invention, put in place, arguably, for the council to capture for itself, and ultimately to control, ratepayer anger over rate hikes. The measure to increase library funding also sounded like a voter demand but was put on the ballot by the very same City Council that voted to decrease library funding the previous budget year. The move allowed the council to say, "Yes, we're mad too! Who did this to us?" instead of "We're sorry."

By the way, this is essentially how one model of reform for state initiatives would work. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat representing Silver Lake, has a bill (ACA 12) that would ask voters to allow the Legislature to hold hearings on a proposed initiative, offer alternatives or adjustments, and if the supposedly improved version is rejected by proponents, put it on the ballot alongside the grass-roots initiative in its original form. Los Angeles political culture has accomplished the same thing informally.

That's good, right? Any problems in the people's proposed initiative could be quickly identified by experts, be discussed at hearings, amended by the council and offered up in a better form. Or it's bad because the council can co-opt the entire process. Take your pick.

The council, of course, hated the idea of term limits in 1993, but sprung into action with its own term limits measure after Riordan's petition qualified for the ballot. The council's version was slightly kinder to incumbents -- it had their two limited terms begin when members currently in the middle of a term were next elected. Riordan's would have begun the limits retrospectively, leaving midyear incumbents only a term and a half to complete. Negotiations failed, both measures went on the ballot, and Los Angeles voters passed both -- but the council's version got more votes than Riordan's and prevailed.

Of course, that's not the end of the story. The council in 2006 put its own measure on the ballot to loosen term limits, to give themselves three terms instead of two. It was couched in campaign mailers as an imposition of term limits rather than a liberalization, and it was accompanied by various lobbyist crackdowns which were, arguably, actually a loosening of rules on lobbyists. Voters fell, or rather, opted, for it.

The last successful initiatives may have been two from the later 1980s. Proposition U in 1986 was a slow-growth measure backed by then-Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Marvin Braude but rejected as an ordinance by a majority of their council colleagues. The councilmen circulated petitions, got their signatures, put it on the ballot and won. The measure cut in half the building rights on most commercial property in the city.

In 1988, Yaroslavsky and Braude returned with an initiative to block Occidental Petroleum from drilling off Pacific Palisades. It won. Occidental's counter-initiative was defeated.

Why are there so few city initiatives? It's a lot of work, and it's expensive, to qualify one for the ballot. Proponents must gather enough valid signatures of registered Los Angeles voters to equal 15% or more of the number of voters who voted for mayor in the previous election. Most state petitions fail, but those that succeed do so in part because the stakes are high enough to attract big money. In Los Angeles that happens far less often.

But we have seen quasi-successful referendum petitions in Los Angeles in the last decade-plus. Unlike an initiative, a referendum -- at least as the term is generally used in California -- is a petitioned ballot measure in which voters are asked whether to keep or overturn a law adopted by the City Council.

In 1999, the council awarded, without bid, a contract extension to the Nederlander family to continue operating the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park. House of Blues wanted the contract, but instead of (or in addition to) suing, it gathered signatures. When the petition qualified, the council saw the error of its ways and agreed to discuss a bidding process. In the end, the two companies agreed on a joint operations deal and the referendum was dropped.

In 2003, the council adopted a ban on lap dancing. The lap dance, uh, industry gathered a sufficient number of valid signatures to suspend the law pending a public vote. That was enough for the council, which again backed down and negotiated an ordinance more palatable to the adult club operators.

So we do voter petitions in Los Angeles, but they rarely get to the ballot.

Currently, the Los Angeles city attorney is trying to block the AIDS Healthcare Foundation measure from going on the June ballot, and some members of the City Council are discussing whether to merely adopt the condom mandate into law. At some point the parties are likely to try talking the whole thing out. That's the L.A. way. Everything's a negotiation.


Condoms in porn? What should we do?

-- Robert Greene

Photo: Andrea Bloom

Condoms in porn? What should we do?

Should performers in pornographic films be required to use condoms? For the editorial board, that's an easy one: Yes. We editorialized more than a year ago for tougher enforcement of workplace protection laws on porn sets and said we just may need a clear state law that mandates condom use. 

Both federal and state labor laws specifically require the use of personal protective equipment or barriers against blood or bodily fluids in the workplace, such as the gloves and masks used by medical technicians. Or, as Cal/OSHA officials say, employers must have "enclosure control plans." The office has inspected porn operations and cited several for violations, but the refusal to comply is firm. No state law specifically requires condom use; it may be time for that to change.

But now we're dealing with a more complicated question: Should the city of Los Angeles adopt a condom mandate as part of its power to issue or deny permits for film shoots? Should voters be allowed to adopt such a mandate into law? Should the city attorney go ahead with a lawsuit to block an initiative to require condoms in porn shoots if his lawyers firmly believe that such a law is unenforceable -- because it's arguably in conflict with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) jurisdiction over workplace safety? What about if going ahead with the arguably unenforceable election will cost the city $4.4 million?

The editorial board has to deliberate, decide and editorialize. What should we say? Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Some background: The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation began gathering signatures in August for an initiative to add a new condom mandate for porn films to city law. Petitioners needed signatures equal to 15% of the voters who voted in the last mayoral election; that comes to 41,138 valid signatures; AIDS Healthcare on Nov. 30 said it had gathered and filed 70,901. The city clerk has until Dec. 23 to verify a random sampling of those signatures to determine whether the petition is valid.

The verification process costs the city $372,000. The initiative would have to go on the next available ballot -- the June 5, 2012, presidential primary. That's not a city election, so the measure would have to hitchhike on a county ballot, and that's not cheap: It will cost $4.4 million.

[Updated, 1:03 p.m.: AIDS Healthcare asserts that the direct cost to the city would be $700,000. Associate Director of Communications Lori Yeghiayan said the $4.4 million figure is an estimate for total city and county costs, and that the cost per measure would drop if more measures are added to the ballot.]

But City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's lawyers believe there's a good chance that the initiative, if adopted, would be struck down as being outside the city's jurisdiction. Only Cal/OSHA, they say, can regulate workplace safety. So Trutanich went to court last week to seek a declaratory judgment from the court as to whether the law, if passed, would be enforceable.

By the way, initiatives in Los Angeles are extremely rare. Almost all of those ballot measures you see every other year are put there by the City Council, not by voters. If this one goes to the ballot, it would be the first one here in 19 years.

Just to keep things interesting, Cal/OSHA sent the city a letter in July asserting that it saw no reason the city couldn't adopt a ban.

Time is of the essence. Los Angeles needs a ruling by the first week in March, when initiative documents are due at the County Registrar's Office. Courts don't usually rule that fast, so Trutanich asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos for an expedited briefing and hearing schedule. This week, the judge granted it and set a Jan. 25 hearing date.

If Palazuelos takes her full 90 days to rule, it would be too late -- the city would already have had to submit its papers to the county. But given that the judge agreed to move the process quickly, she would likely prefer to rule in time, if she can. Of course, either side could appeal her decision and thus still blow the county election filing deadline.

Either way, the City Council would have to adopt a motion by Feb. 1 to go ahead with the election, just to give city officials enough time to gather together the materials they need to file with the county.

Meanwhile, some members of the City Council are miffed that Trutanich took this legal action without consulting them. After a closed session with city lawyers earlier this week, the council tabled a motion to direct lawyers to dismiss the suit. We're likely to see that motion again in early January.

The council could cut through much of the morass by simply adopting the substance of the initiative into an ordinance by itself. That would save the need for the election, the $4.4 million [Update 1:03 p.m.: or $700,000?] and the court hearing -- or would it? Trutanich still would advise that the law was unenforceable, and that the city is likely to be sued and to incur unnecessary costs.

See? Not quite so simple, is it? So should The Times call on the City Council to let the suit go forward so we can get an idea whether the law would even be enforceable before spending money on an election? Or should we tell it to let the people vote and then see if the city is sued? Should we call on the council to just pass the thing into law itself?

Your thoughts, comments?


Safe sex on the set

L.A. porn condom initiative moves closer to ballot

Forcing porn actors to wear condoms sparks legal battle

--Robert Greene

Photo: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation holds a protest in February near the L.A. site of an adult film awards show. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

What if Tylenol were taken off the self-service shelves?

So is the next move by Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, going to revolve around taking Tylenol off the pharmacy's self-service shelves?

The question might be silly, but it serves to make a point. If Sebelius was determined to stop the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from allowing over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill to girls younger than 17, she needed to find a stronger argument than concern that 11-year-olds, about 10% of whom can become pregnant, might not understand how to use the pill.

Never mind that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg had delved deeply into the subject and determined that girls of any age who were old enough to get pregnant were old enough to figure out proper usage of the Plan B pill. Sebelius' argument fails when we simply look at the wide range of pharmaceuticals that can be purchased off the shelf by any 11-year-old.

Overuse of acetaminophen -- Tylenol is one brand name for this common generic pain reliever -- can be quite dangerous.  As The Times reported last year, acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of liver failure and death from liver failure in the U.S. But no one, including Sebelius, is hinting at sweeping the medication off the shelves and planting it behind the counter, demanding a prescription from anyone younger than 17.

In fact, 11-year-olds would be much less likely to purchase Plan B, since only 5% of them -- the girls who are capable of becoming pregnant, and of those, only the ones who are having unprotected sex -- would have any use for it.

Almost any over-the-counter medication can be misused, but we don't live our lives around the assumption that it will be.


Second-guessing Plan B

Sebelius, teens and the morning-after pill

Doctors groups blast decision on Plan B contraception

--Karin Klein

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

Sexually transmitted disease: How to fight frighteningly high rates of infection

chlamydiagonorrheasexually transmitted diseaseSTD


Chlamydia rates among young African American women in L.A. County have reached alarming levels:  8.7% of all black teenagers ages 15 to 19 have the sexually transmitted disease. Gonorrhea rates are lower but still troublingly high among African American girls and women. Rates among Latino girls and women also are above average.

And the disease rates are especially bad in the 2nd Supervisorial District, which encompasses many low-income areas of the county -- generally at least twice as high.

Chlamydia is easily curable with antibiotics, but if it is allowed to spread undetected, it can cause a host of potentially dangerous health problems, especially to the fetus of a pregnant woman. Yet how to catch it early? Some 70% of infected women have no symptoms.

The county's well-regarded "I Know" campaign is one smart approach. It provides free home testing kits to women, who can mail in their tests and receive the results by Internet. But not everyone has Internet access. So on Monday, the county and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas are kicking it up a notch by placing dedicated kiosks throughout his district that will allow women to order the kits online and get the results as well.

What's especially heartening about this is that, according to Ridley-Thomas' office, pastors and other religious leaders in the district aren't getting moralistic about the problem, realizing that the most important moral issue here is to provide low-income women and girls with information and medical care. They've gotten behind the effort, an important public relations tool in neighborhoods where a good part of community life revolves around the church.


ACLU's 'Don't Filter Me' campaign makes sense

What's different about scary warning labels for smokers?

Flash! Facebook causes teen drinking! (Until you read the fine print)

--Karin Klein

Graphic provided by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' office.

Anti-gay Facebook postings: The free-speech rights of a teacher

anti-gayfacebookfloridagaygay marriagegay rightslesbianreassignedsame-sex marriageteacher

Gay marriage Teachers are certainly entitled to their opinions about homosexuality and gay marriage. But are they entitled to hold forth on those opinions on Facebook and other social media? The Orlando Sentinel reports on a Florida teacher who has been reassigned while administrators consider what to do about his anti-gay comments on Facebook.

At one point, high school social studies teacher Jerry Buell wrote on his personal Facebook page, rather inelegantly, that he felt sickened by the news about same-sex marriage being allowed in New York; he also said it was a sin and part of a "cesspool."

Buell and I couldn't be further apart in our personal views of same-sex marriage. But then, that's the point. It's his personal view, expressed on his personal page, on his personal time. If he used school equipment, time or software to express those views, he certainly would have it coming.

But it's problematic when schools -- and just about any other employer -- feel they should own their employees and dictate their behavior 24/7. It could be argued that Buell's comments might make gay and lesbian students uncomfortable in his class. In truth, high school students know quite well that many of their teachers are likely to hold radically different opinions from theirs. We should get beyond the idea that teenagers have to be "comfortable" at all times, as long as they're not being bullied.

Of course, Buell should face harsh discipline if he criticized gay and lesbian students in his classroom or in the school hallways. And his use of Facebook to promote his ideas -- despite district guidelines that call for cautious use of social media -- indicates a lack of tact and savvy. Far worse, though, is the lesson inherent in this action: that a person can't have a publicly expressed opinion on his or her own time.


Threatening Obama: The high price of free speech

Republicans wax medieval on gay marriage in Iowa

Same-sex marriage: How much has public opinion really changed?

California needs to get back on the gay rights track [Most commented]

--Karin Klein

Photo: A sign on a motorcycle during the New York City gay pride march June 26, 2011. Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Another reason to support circumcision

Countries in Africa have scaled up circumcision efforts to prevent the spread of HIV.

Circumcision is making headlines again, but this time on the other side of the globe. A successful circumcision campaign in South Africa worked to help decrease HIV infections in men by 76%, The Times reported. The results of the campaign could be a game-changer for countries with high HIV transmission rates. Clinical trials showed similar evidence, but the campaign demonstrated it in practice.

The procedure has been ramped up in sub-Saharan Africa since the World Health Organization's announcement four years ago that circumcision reduces a man's HIV contraction by 60%, according to NPR.

Despite the results of the South African campaign, researchers aren’t completely sure why the procedure has such positive results. Other studies have shown that the foreskin has a high concentration of cells affected by HIV, and circumcision prevents the growth of viruses and bacteria, according to The Times' Booster Shots blog. Now, the researchers are looking into whether the procedure has also benefited women.

The merits of the procedure have been hotly debated in California over the last few months as proposals to ban circumcision cropped up in San Francisco and Santa Monica (though the latter quickly disappeared). Some groups have said the procedure is mutilation, but The Times Editorial Board argued that the procedure is vastly different from the illegal and abusive female genital mutilation practiced by some cultures. The American Academy of Pediatrics cited potential evidence that circumcision provides health benefits, but there was not enough proof for a recommendation of the procedure, which, the board argues, should leave it to parents to decide. The San Francisco measure was discriminatory and an intrusion into family privacy, the board wrote, and was quickly met with propositions to ban the ban.

Unfortunately, the good news about circumcision came with some bad news about hormonal birth control: Women on the pill have nearly double the chance of contracting HIV or transmitting the virus if they already have it. At the same time, healthcare experts in the U.S. are calling for free preventive healthcare for women, which would include -- you guessed it -- birth control. About that…


Sex in the time of AIDS

The debate over circumcising baby boys

Overpopulation debate comes to one conclusion

AIDS: After 30 years, the battle is far from over

--Samantha Schaefer

Photo: A man waits to undergo a circumcision procedure at a clinic in Kenya. Credit: Tony Karumba/ AFP / Getty Images

Anthony Weiner scandal: Leave the poor guy alone

Anthony Weiner Anthony Weiner's scandal should have simmered down after he checked into rehab, but his not-so-trusty confidante Ginger Lee stirred the pot Wednesday by telling the media he'd asked her to lie for him.

It makes you want scold Weiner for being such a jerk. And you can imagine how the skeptics reacted, the ones like the Washington Post's Ruth Marcu who think his stint in rehab is a quick-fix PR stunt to clean up his image. "[Weiner's] episode underscores how rehab has become an all-purpose laundromat for irresponsible behavior, an infuriatingly easy substitute for accepting blame and living with consequences," she wrote.

And it's true: We've seen this face of shame, described (and illustrated) in a New York Times City Room post by Andy Newman and Elissa Gootman, so many times before.

But are the media being too hard on Weiner? It might start to look that way, said the Daily Beast's Eric Alterman: "Weiner may have solved everybody's problem with his 'treatment' gambit. It makes those who continue to milk the story look like heartless vultures for harassing a sick man (with a pregnant wife)." And yet, people continue to brush off a pattern of behavior associated with addiction.

Is it unfair to roll our eyes at a guy with genuine problem? That's the case Susan Cheever made on The Fix, an addiction and recovery website. Here's an excerpt from an excellent article that describes the psychology of addiction:

This seemingly irrational behavior on the part of very rational men and women is at the heart of addiction -- and at the heart of the case of onetime rising star Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman whose bizarre twitter escapades have made world wide news. [...]

[F]or those whose behavior appears both compulsive and inexplicable, where the risks far outweigh the benefits, a diagnosis of sex addiction is a good bet. [...]

Men who are unable to control their sexual urges at any cost need help, just like drug addicts and alcoholics.

Meghan Daum also showed some sensitivity and understanding for the disgraced politician in her Thursday Op-Ed article. In it, she wonders "whether his penchant for erotic self-portraiture reveals not confidence or excessive vanity but an ingrained self-loathing." This guy could be seriously screwed up.

When you consider the context for Weiner's indiscretions -- the slam-book-cum-mosh pit that is Twitter, the way Facebook has turned exhibitionism into "sharing" and voyeurism into a pastime as quotidian as checking the weather forecast -- one thing seems clear: Weiner was using social networking less as a means of communication than as a mirror. Apparently unable to rely on his own judgment when gazing at his reflection, he sought outside appraisers who were guaranteed to issue the approval he couldn't muster for himself.

And, of course, you can't forget the possibility that a "Type T" personality could be at the root of his troubles. It's hard to like someone like Weiner, but given all that could be wrong, it's also hard to see him crucified.

[Update: Bowing to pressure from his own party, Rep. Anthony Weiner plans to resign today, according to Democratic sources. He told Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday.]


Weiner's fate

Poll: Should Anthony Weiner resign?

My Anthony Weiner apology, in his own words

Most commented: Our readers' Weiner obsession

The psychology of Weiner's scandal and what it says about us

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) pauses during a news conference in New York after acknowledging inappropriate online communications with women. Credit: Jin Lee / Bloomberg



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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