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In today's pages: The big oil suit; the Ted Kennedy few knew

August 28, 2009 |  9:10 am

Kennedy An extraordinary lawsuit--one that could change the balance of power between multinationals and the indigenous people in the countries where they pull resources from the ground--is nearing verdict in Ecuador, where extensive damage was caused by years of oil extraction: In the first of a two-part series, the editorial board reflects on the damage and the changes in corporate behavior that might come about as a result:

Today, a swath of the Ecuadorean Amazon the size of Rhode Island remains contaminated beyond imagining. At one site after another, oil hangs in the air, slideson the water's surface and saturates the land. Pipelines and waste pits left behind years ago still drip and ooze. Advocates for the plaintiffs have called the former Texaco concession area the "Amazon Chernobyl." Were it in the United States, it would easily qualify as a Superfund site. Neither side in the case disputes the devastation, only who should pay for it. Chevron says it is the state-owned oil company's responsibility; the plaintiffs say it is Chevron's.

On the other side of the fold, the op-ed page offers a trio of tributes to people of accomplishment who have contributed to modern society:

A former aide of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy reveals another side of the Senate powerhouse. He describes the personal, empathetic man who understood what it was like to lose loved ones and regularly called people who were mourning terrible deaths--such as the victims of the World Trade Center attack-- spending expansive amounts of time sympathizing and even crying with them.

Jim Newton, editor of the editorial pages, pulls from his years of experience covering City Hall to pay tribute to Robin Kramer, chief aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (and previously, Richard Riordan), who resigned from the mayor's office. Calling her L.A.'s leading grown-up, Newton praises the focus and level head she has brought to Villaraigosa's operation and wonders, with a measure of nervousness, what the mayor's operation will be like without her.

And two academics who have co-authored a book honor the iconic African American civil-rights figure T.R.M. Hunter--flamboyant big-game hunter, plantation owner, and surgeon to the poor. What, never heard of him? That's exactly the point. Now you will have.

--Karin Klein

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP


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