Star Tribune series raised awareness


While we should all sympathize with the Dakota Sioux for their harsh treatment following the 1862 war, we should also show some understanding for the feelings of the settlers ("In the footsteps of Little Crow," Aug. 12-17). These people were very vulnerable on their frontier farms and were afraid for their lives and families. Most were not interested, or even aware, of the politics involving the Dakota and their lands. They just wished to feel safe. How many of us were greatly concerned that innocent people would be hurt when we went after the Taliban in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attack? We just wanted to make sure that it wouldn't happen again.


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Thank you for the heartfelt and painstakingly researched series of the U.S.-Dakota War. I appreciate such detail on the front page of our city's newspaper. It is good that we, living on this fertile land today, know some of its story. This tragic story of enormous suffering by two cultures has been replicated endless times. Yet because of so many emerging resources -- for instance, a sensitive series like this one -- we humans are strengthened in knowing that we have the mental and emotional capacity to rise above such behaviors.

We understand much better the conditions that provoke warfare. We perceive the relentless devastation that is created for current and future generations. We have a tremendous opportunity to turn the suffering of our ancestors into insights that will lead us beyond war. May it be so.


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Ethanol debate

Contrary to what you may have heard ...


Jason Hill's commentary on corn was inaccurate and misleading ("Too much corn is being wasted as fuel," Aug. 12). His statement that corn is a highly inefficient and polluting fuel is wrong. The net energy value of producing ethanol is 1.34. In other words ethanol produces 1.34 times the amount of energy that is required to produce the fuel. Ethanol benefits air quality, including reductions in emissions of CO2, particulate matter and many toxins.

As for ethanol using up the global corn supply, its share of the 2011-2012 global grain supply was 3.2 percent. Remember that humans consume sweet corn -- not field corn. Field corn is used to produce ethanol and to feed livestock. In addition, more than one-third of the corn entering an ethanol plant is discharged out the other end as high nutrient livestock poultry feed.


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Claims that nearly half of our corn supply this year will be used for ethanol are false. Only 16 percent of the corn harvested goes to ethanol production. During the process, only one-third of the kernel is used for ethanol, with all the protein, fiber and oil being returned to the food chain in the form of a high protein animal feed, which replaces corn and soybean meal and is less expensive.

It appears that the author has joined Big Oil in helping to spread misinformation and distort the truth. Claims that ethanol, which substantially reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, is a dirtier fuel than gasoline are laughable. Furthermore, ethanol already makes up 10 percent of our nation's gasoline supply, double what the misinformed author claims.


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Transparency is key to healthy system


In discussions with people about the value of a central bank, and the risks and benefits associated with either fiat money or the gold standard, I've concluded that transparency is key to the Federal Reserve system's existence ("Defend the Fed," Aug. 12).

True, Ben Bernanke gives regular testimony regarding the bank's operations. But to whom? A Congress with the lowest approval rating in the history of the United States. True transparency would come in the form of an audit, something that Rep. Ron Paul recently won passage for in the House. Passage in the Senate is currently being held up by Sen. Harry Reid. Are we really too busy for this?


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Don't believe for a moment that it's safe


A Star Tribune story on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) states that it was "once branded a barbaric relic of primitive psychology" ("Shock therapy rebounds at HCMC," Aug. 5).

Let's be clear: Shock therapy remains barbaric. ECT patients under court order have no choice about the treatment. ECT passes several hundred volts across the brain, where natural voltages are around a thousandth of a volt. It's impossible to predict where voltages will end up, and what damage they will do.

It's like kicking a TV set to fix it. ECT side effects are far more than "headaches and some memory loss." Numerous studies identify permanent brain damage, increased susceptibility to stroke, premature death, increased suicides and a legion of other very dangerous consequences.

The article uses the term "stigma" throughout, as if ECT were safe and in need of an image correction. The reality is that ECT is a dangerous, unproven procedure with highly uncertain and potentially devastating outcomes. Those suffering terribly from serious mental illness deserve far better than this horrific "treatment" technique.