If their benefits were at risk ... no delays


Congress should have included the following in the bill designed to force them to avoid the fiscal cliff: "All currently elected members of Congress shall be denied salary, heath benefits and pensions until a reasonable tax and spending reduction bill is passed into law." Such a bill would have forced them to act out of their own self-interests. They've demonstrated that the best interests of the citizens who elect them and pay their benefits through taxes aren't of their concern.


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Professional players are losing hockey fans


The NHL lockout is yet another disturbing example of the greedy, ill-managed and frivolous nature of the American professional sports environment (" 'See you in court' is the only language NHL and union are speaking," Dec. 18). I'm a big hockey fan. Even so, with three teenagers of my own playing hockey and plenty of good hockey to watch at the high school and college levels, I don't need the NHL. Also, I don't want my tax dollars subsidizing their insane practices. I hope that true hockey fans put these selfish owners and players on ice by boycotting the NHL and watching it dissolve.


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We, too, often lose sight of our key priorities


The Dec. 18 newspaper featured two articles that were revealing about the times in which we live. One story detailed how the city of Wabasha, Minn., denied a petition request for an environmental review for a frac-sand rail hub, despite the very real risks posed to both health and the environment by this type of mining ("Wabasha boosts frac-sand rail hub"). The other story dealt with the denial of a Minnetonka senior home's request to add an 11th resident -- which wouldn't have increased staff or physical space -- just because people didn't want to see an additional car or elderly person being walked around the block by a home health care aide ("Minnetonka senior home not allowed to expand, council says"). Apparently, it is OK to push through a potentially dangerous mining operation that will affect thousands with both noise and pollution in order to increase a company's profits, but God forbid we should show compassion to an elderly resident because it might lower property values. I wonder how the good citizens of Minnetonka would like it if they had to put up with the noise and pollution of frac-sand mining instead of a minor disturbance from just one additional elderly patient?


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Climate change should have headed the lists


The Associated Press poll of the top news stories of 2012 was disappointing ("President Obama's re-election was considered the top story of the year before horror struck Newtown," Dec. 23). Although Superstorm Sandy was listed as No. 3, it's symptomatic of our deep denial that climate change in all its manifestations was not listed as No. 1.


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Bring NRA into Biden's reform discussions


As a proud, longtime member of the National Rifle Association, this nation's oldest continuously operated civil-rights organization, I commend executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's contributions to the "conversation" concerning the recent tragic events in Newtown, Conn. If President Obama were serious about doing something about the reoccurrence of homicidal maniacs' actions we have seen of late, he would order Vice President Joe Biden to include the NRA in any committee discussions.


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The way you frame the debate goes a long way in winning it ("While grief is fresh, some in Newtown are urging political activism," Dec. 25). Antiabortion advocates invented the term "partial birth abortion" to describe a procedure that doesn't exist in order to fight the abortion wars. Antitax advocates invented the term "death tax" to describe the estate tax to fight the tax wars. It's time now for gun-control advocates to fight back. Call any proposed gun-control legislation the "Anti-Massacre Act." Frame the debate that way and make the gun huggers defend an abhorrent term for once.


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President Obama needs to be a party person


I recently heard a member of Congress on the radio suggesting that President Obama needed to host more social get-togethers with lawmakers, no matter their politics. Presumably, this would provide opportunities for them to get to know each other as human beings rather than merely as political opponents. This suggestion reminded me what Dolley Madison did when her husband faced such an intransigent Congress. She hosted parties for lawmakers and their families. With so many crucial decisions at a standstill, maybe this kind of outreach by the Obamas could help break down some of the barriers preventing lawmakers from working together.


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Cargill not accountable on palm oil practices


The Cargill executive's defense of the company's record on palm oil was disingenuous ("Cargill's work with palm oil is significant," Dec. 17). In Indonesia, the equivalent of six football fields of primary forest disappear every minute as palm oil plantations expand. These plantations are a substantial source of greenhouse-gas emissions and a major threat to biodiversity. One study has called palm oil "the single most immediate threat to the greatest number of species." Cargill's work helps to drive deforestation, wildlife loss, community conflict and accelerating climate change. The only thing the company cares about is its bottom line.