Addiction doesn’t disqualify achievements

The writer of the Feb. 4 letter “Overdose overshadows actor’s achievements,” referring to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, argues that it is wrong “when someone who dies from doing drugs is honored in the media.” That is off-base for two reasons:

1) A person’s addiction does not define who the person is and does not disqualify the person from recognition for life achievements. We don’t refuse to honor a great author because the author is obese or works from a wheelchair.

2) The writer makes the common (wrong) assumption that using drugs is a choice for the addict. There is no choice involved in addiction, and relapse is common. Addiction runs in families; it’s no one’s fault for being an addict. It is addicts’ responsibility to work a recovery program, to the best of their ability, but it is not their fault for being born who they are.

BOB SCHNELL, Chanhassen


The writer is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.



Waste some, want some, and doing it with flare

While we are faced with a shortage of propane in Minnesota, oil drillers in North Dakota are flaring off a large amount of natural gas at wellheads. Propane is a component of natural gas. The amount of natural gas wasted in North Dakota could produce a lot of electricity and reduce the amount of coal we burn.

It is estimated that the amount of natural gas flared off in North Dakota will increase until 2020. The Keystone XL pipeline, if built, will allow the shipment of even more oil from the state. This would seem to translate into even more flaring, unless we develop the infrastructure to efficiently transport natural gas and propane to consumers.

We are told that, nationwide, we don’t have a shortage of propane; we have a shortage of infrastructure. This country needs Keystone XL, but let’s first (or concurrent with Keystone XL) find ways to use what we are currently wasting.




Multiple deployments are cause for concern

In “The divided state of America” (Feb. 1), John Rash — referring to applause for a wounded veteran — writes that briefly during President Obama’s State of the Union address “the national narrative wasn’t about income inequality or minimum wage.” I beg to disagree! Who has signed on for military service in recent years, and why? Often those who are won over by what recruiters promise — by sugarcoated statements about deployment locations and job-training opportunities, as well as money for college — are financially challenged. Still, recruiters have been unable to entice the number needed to fight the two wars sanctioned by Congress. Congress might be pleased with itself for not instituting an unpopular draft as a solution to this. But the result of not enough bodies and no draft has been the inhumane practice of soldiers being deployed again and again, whether they want to go again or not. Why was Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg on his 10th deployment to Afghanistan? Was it really because he was willing to pay “the maximum price … in order for our democracy to disagree,” as Rash states? Or was he sent back repeatedly so others would not have to go at all?




No amnesty, nor anything like it

Recently, House Republican leaders unveiled a framework for immigration reform that would allow those currently in our country unlawfully to live here “legally.” Unfortunately, that amounts to amnesty.

The lure of a rebounding economy, the promise of amnesty and the lax enforcement of immigration laws are strong temptations. That’s why amnesty doesn’t work to control illegal immigration; in fact, it just encourages more people to risk crossing the border illegally. It is the duty of any government to secure its borders, and the United States is failing. We must secure our borders now before even considering any other form of immigration reform. There must be a zero-tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas.

Millions are waiting their turn for their opportunity to become Americans, and it’s simply wrong to allow lawbreakers to jump the line.

Given President Obama’s affinity for selectively enforcing laws he likes and avoiding enforcement of those he does not like, Congress should not be so naive as to trust him to uphold any new immigration laws.


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Journalism must be more than press-release pandering. Immigration is a very hot topic now, and the Star Tribune lets us down when it simply parrots U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s attack that Obama has not proven he will protect the country from illegal immigrants. Border crossers account for 50 percent of the 11 million here without papers; many come legally and just stay. The facts, which have evaded Ryan and the Star Tribune, are that Obama has deported more people than all of the presidents who came before him and that in each of the past five years he has deported approximately 400,000 people. Forty-one percent of those people had no serious criminal problems. Many did have U.S. citizen spouses and children from whom they are now separated, perhaps permanently.