I would like to add a few points to a recent letter about the effects of tariffs and rural America (“Rural America will need repair,” Aug. 28). When the tariffs come off (who knows when), prices will probably not return to pre-tariff levels. Now that President Donald Trump’s tariffs have been in place for 18 months, farmers have seen markets that they built over 40 years (through money raised by farmers’ crop checkoff payments) permanently damaged. This has not only affected short-term prices, but now China is investing in the infrastructure of Brazil for Brazilian agricultural products so it can bypass U.S. farmers. Brazilian forest fires have dramatically jumped because of the money that China has pumped into Brazil’s infrastructure to support shipments of soybeans, corn and beef to Chinese and Asian markets.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s derogatory joke about whining farmers at Farmfest (where he joked, “What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar”) only supports the disdain and incompetence the Trump administration has shown to farmers, agriculture businesses, transportation and rural America. Trump temporarily suspending Chinese tariffs so Americans can get their Christmas presents a little cheaper this year does not solve the problem!
My husband and I have farmed almost 40 years in western Minnesota and have never seen such volatility and uncertainty to our livelihood. Besides attending town meetings and engaging elected officials at Farmfest or the State Fair, maybe everyone needs to make sure that the current administration is not in the White House after the next election!
Katherine Dantzler-Olson, Dawson, Minn.
Natural gas use must be slashed
Minneapolis’ path to a carbon-stable future faces even steeper challenges than the Star Tribune article suggests (“Mpls. hopes to trim natural gas use,” Aug. 28). Minneapolis’ greenhouse gas reduction goals are far too conservative — they target an 80% reduction by 2050, while scientists recently indicated a 100% reduction in carbon emissions overall by 2050 is necessary to prevent global climate-induced breakdowns.
The inadequacy of Minneapolis’ goals isn’t the city’s fault: This goal was established in 2015, when a slower and lower set of targets might have helped stabilize our climate. Since that target was set, however, we humans have continued to pump massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus shortening the amount of time we have to act and increasing the amount of carbon we must cut to counterbalance the harm we’ve caused.
All this underscores how urgently we must mobilize. We don’t have time for CenterPoint Energy to be “looking at alternatives.” Instead, we need the city and the state to ban new natural gas hookups, as the city of Berkeley, Calif., just did in new low-rise buildings. We need developers to heat and cool buildings with efficient geothermal systems, like Cornell Tech did in New York. We need the state and federal government to support hundreds of thousands of careers in building efficiency retrofits all across America.
Minneapolis, Minnesota and the United States can lead in protecting against the worst possible consequences of climate change. But there’s no time to lose.
Samuel A. Rockwell, Minneapolis
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Minneapolis is struggling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the heating and cooling of buildings. One answer lies beneath our feet — geothermal — and it works well to provide both heating and cooling. My wife and I took a 100-year-old house in south Minneapolis, applied solar, geothermal and lots of insulation — and then we cut the gas line. Our very comfortable house now offsets more than 12 tons of carbon a year.
Massive reductions in gas use require radical solutions. What if the city itself got into the geothermal business? When streets and sidewalks are replaced, the city could drill wells for neighboring buildings. That would be a good start, but even “free” geothermal wells aren’t enough. Incentives are needed to persuade companies to put geothermal wells under their new buildings and parking lots, and to homeowners to replace windows and insulation — necessary for making best use of the energy under their feet. It’s time to think big. The resource is waiting, and it is constantly available, rain or shine. Let’s start using it.
Stewart Herman, Minneapolis
How is an allegation from divorce court worthy of the front page?
Has our Star Tribune finally gone total National Enquirer on us? U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s alleged affair is now front-page “news” because a woman alleged an affair in a divorce document? (“Omar denies affair claim,” Aug. 28.) Even if your reporters had some information outside the court documents, which the article does not say it has, or one day this relationship actually turns out to be an affair, how is an unverified, one-person “story” supposed to be news at all, much less front-page news to the people of Minnesota and the editors of our once-proud paper?
I get that Omar’s higher political profile is now news, and even unproven accusations of past marital issues might have once been news, but this is just sensationalism to sell papers at the cost of a public reputation.
By the way — the recent antidemocratic actions by the current right-wing Israeli government actually proves her concerns about the autocracy we support so blindly. And anyone who doesn’t know that such support is buttressed by the millions of lobbying funds from Israel supporters to Congress — that Omar has called out — is naive.
Thomas Harens, Chaska
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As a middle-of-the-road Democrat, I deplore Omar’s defining herself as the face of the Democratic Party. But as a believer in equal opportunity I’m happy to see her involved in personal-life drama. We all knew that many of our male political figures had, and have, “colorful” personal lives. The Kennedys were notorious; our current president has a trail of extramarital involvements. It’s good to see that women have the same chances to mess up that men have. Welcome to the 21st century.
Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis
Ignore the show; think for yourself
So now we have at least two Republicans separating from the suffocating blanket under which President Donald Trump has placed his party. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan — formerly a Republican, now an independent — was one of the first, and with his announcement he skewered Trump for being a substandard, dangerous leader. Now Joe Walsh, a former member of Congress, stated Sunday that Trump was “nuts,” “erratic,” “cruel” and “incompetent” (“Another Republican joins primary race,” Aug. 26). Previously, Walsh had added his voice to the lie of President Barack Obama not being American-born.
Walsh made that outrageous claim to hype his conservative talk-radio show. I wonder when we will begin to understand that much of talk-show discussions are just that — show. Look at Jason Lewis (recently announced candidate for U.S. Senate from Minnesota) frantically backpedaling from some of his statements when he was a talk-show host. These people are showmen, playing to the lowest common denominator of our citizens to stir up animosities and division when we should be concentrating on coming together to solve our many problems.
It is time to stop giving these talk shows any credibility in regard to delivering useful, objective information to the public and start thinking for ourselves.
Jack Evert, Woodbury
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