David Levinson of the University of Minnesota addresses the Northstar ridership decline by stating, "You're not looking at a market that was suited to this" ("Northstar cuts fares to lure riders," July 6).
My response is, "The establishment did not look at a total system that suited the potential market." The movers and shakers unwisely chose to stop the train at Big Lake, with a population of 10,000, and serve the St. Cloud metro area -- the second-largest in the state -- with a measly shuttle bus to and from that terminus.
I would challenge Levinson to put forward a ridership model with the St. Cloud metro area as the destination point and see what his projections would look like, especially since commercial air service has all but stopped for the area.
And please don't include that silly shuttle bus in the study. That was likely set up as a stalling tactic by those who have a negative thing about futuristic transportation modes.
Whatever Levinson might come up with, I believe the system needs the St. Cloud metro area with a modern train station. My fear is that the entire system will go in the tank before that case can really be made.
JOHN F. CARLSTED, ST. CLOUD
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A July 11 letter writer favors not ending the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year, stating: "That's the whole idea -- all of that revenue can go toward reducing the deficit." Perhaps those in that income bracket (I'm a long way from there) would be more receptive if they didn't think that every penny would just go for increased spending.
GARY NASH, CHANHASSEN
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Adding about 80 million people a year affects the whole planet in many ways ("The crowded planet," July 9). It strains our water, soil and other natural resources. Just look at how devastating the forests fires out west were this summer.
Yet around the globe we destroyed much more forest on purpose as a growing population seeks more farmland or cuts trees to support growing families. Those added millions also strain the economy. We cannot keep up with jobs, housing and transportation if our planet continues to grow at this rate.
When it comes to birth control, I part company with many of my conservative friends. Access to contraceptives should be available not only to all Americans, but for people the world over. And while I do not think abortion should be used as a means of birth control, I maintain that final decision should be left to the woman involved. That is one of the reasons that I, a conservative on most issues, could never have voted for a Rick Santorum.
Unfortunately, we face a lot of hurdles in stemming population growth. Many people do think the issue is serious enough. And too many cultures, especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia, have for thousands of years embraced large families. This sort of thinking will be difficult to overcome. And time is not on our side.
TOM R. KOVACH, NEVIS, MINN.
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I'd like to add another point to the response to Saturday's letter writer who asked what's the difference between the present global warming and all that went before. The difference? Humans discovered and started burning coal, oil and natural gas trapped in the earth's crust. That changed everything.
Plants have always used carbon dioxide to make sugars, starches, wood and everything they need to survive. Animals in turn have used plants to make bone, muscle and everything they need to survive. But in tens of thousands of generations, plants could never keep up with the amount of carbon dioxide we humans are putting into the air by burning fossil fuels.
The natural balance has been totally upset. And oh, yes -- carbon dioxide in the air happens to trap heat and prevent it from radiating back into space. The more coal, oil and natural gas we burn, the hotter we're going to be.
EMILY MOORE, MINNEAPOLIS
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With the Summer Olympics fast approaching in London, I'd like to see Minneapolis and St. Paul throw their hat into the ring and look into bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
With the building of the new Vikings stadium (or with TCF Bank), we will have a stadium large enough for the opening ceremonies, plus we have the Xcel Energy Center, Target Center and Target Field and the many university venues to host other sports. The many lakes around Minneapolis could be used for rowing, while Lake Superior could host the sailing events.
Minneapolis also has an abundance of hotel rooms, and the airport would have to be upgraded only a little to handle the influx of people. The only major problems to be solved would be the building of an athletes village, which can be turned into low-income housing after the Games, and of course the transportation problems that plague the metropolitan area.
MICHAEL ENGLEHARDT, CHANHASSEN
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In response to the July 6 letter "Cartoons: Recent selections have been miserable, or ..." -- which complains about "so many [vicious] anti-Obama political cartoons recently" -- the opposite is true.
The tally: Staff cartoonist Steve Sack had all anti-GOP or anti-Romney cartoons (June 25, 27, 28 and 29, and July 1 and 2), then went on vacation.
During this time, only two non-Sack cartoons appeared (June 26 -- anti-GOP, if anything), and June 30 (anti-Obama, but no more vicious than Sack's cartoons).
During and shortly after Sack's vacation: July 3, gentle anti-Obama; July 4, not political; July 5, anti-Obama (not vicious); July 6, neither side; July 7, anti-GOP; July 8, anti-Romney, July 9, anti-Obama; July 10, anti-Romney.
PATRICIA PELOQUIN, BUFFALO
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