Transparency lacking in Obama administration


I agree with the Obama administration's policy that permits the execution of those who are engaged in operations aimed at killing Americans, even if the targeted individual is a U.S. citizen, and even if this action is more lethal to the individual and bystanders than waterboarding.

I disagree with the administration's policy of nondisclosure of the "rules of engagement," even to members of Congress. These rules had to be leaked to the press, and Congress had to threaten the confirmation of John Brennan as the new CIA director. Only then did the administration hand over the guiding document.

Only after Obama got caught with his hand in the cookie jar did he direct the Justice Department to hand over the document to the Senate Intelligence Committee "as part of the president's ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters," an administration official said. So much for our "most transparent" president.


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Cop was silly, but why the outrage over hijab?


I finally saw the picture of the St. Paul policeman wearing the red burqa and Target name tag at a private Halloween party last year ("St. Paul officer in hijab apologizes for photo," Feb. 6). I hadn't seen the shot until the day after all the media reports. I was expecting something obscene and horrible.

Frankly, while it was a bit silly and perhaps tasteless, I thought it really was pretty tame. And I kept wondering why there is no outrage when people wear rosaries as jewelry, or upside-down crucifixes?

Or how about when the Brooklyn Art Museum a few years back displayed a statue of the Virgin Mary made out of elephant dung? In America, I think it is almost part of our culture to degrade and make fun of Christianity. Why is Islam somehow immune?


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As a Muslim, I would like to ask all my fellow Muslims and everyone else in our community to not use the officer's intentions as a basis for creating a stereotype against the police. The police chief immediately condemned the incident, and police have worked hard to add walk to their talk. They have even joined our mosque to celebrate Eid, a religious holiday celebrated at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

It is critical that the actions of one person not overshadow those of a nation that has worked hard to build a positive environment.


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Red Wing mayor has a clear conflict of interest


Mayor Dennis Egan may be fooling himself, but this Red Wing resident and voter does not accept a mayor pocketing the money of frac sand mining interests ("Red Wing's mayor gets 2nd job with sand lobby," Feb. 6).

We have a "weak mayor" system, in which the mayor is a titular head. Unfortunately, Egan is working too hard to redefine "weak mayor." His primary job is to represent the city. That just isn't possible if he's representing the frac sand mining industry. These two hats are not compatible. As long as Egan is the voice of frac sand interests, he isn't speaking for the city of Red Wing.

Egan makes every effort to minimize or deny the obvious conflict of interest, even as a City Council meeting approaches in which members will address not only Egan's duplicity but also the city's legislative lobbying position on frac sand mining issues.

If the mayor doesn't resign immediately, it's time for the council to remove him for cause, as authorized by the city charter.


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Health exchange

Insurers need to prove themselves to state


"Why wouldn't you put us in your exchange?" That's the question Minnesota health plans have asked in several legislative committee hearings this week. For all the pages of complicated health law, the central issue comes down to this: How much leverage will Minnesota's health care exchange have to parley with insurance companies?

The health plans maintain that once they have met the standard criteria they will have a voice in creating the exchange and will be automatically included.

Why wouldn't we put you, the insurers, in the exchange without a second look? Because we need to get this right. As in any industry, there will be bad apples, hidden fees, misrepresentation and misinformation. Minnesota has an embarrassingly high level of health care disparity. It will be a learning experience for everyone in the industry to open the doors to the uninsured and to welcome the complicated cases.


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Nicollet Mall

We've got a chance to take a big step forward


Plans to run a streetcar or enhanced bus system down Nicollet Mall miss a rare opportunity (with another not available for decades) to make the mall pedestrian-only from 13th Street to Washington Avenue. A better transportation route could run north on Nicollet along "Eat Street" to 15th Street, move east one block to 1st Avenue and the Convention Center, north on Marquette to Washington, move two blocks east to 3rd Avenue, and proceed north across the 3rd Avenue Bridge. This route would facilitate transfers with the Orange Line between express and local service, but most important, it would make a pedestrian-only Nicollet Mall easily achieved. Cross-traffic would be unchanged.

Most European cities have pedestrian-only streets, and many are farther north than Minneapolis. If they can enjoy this amenity, so can we. Don't let this opportunity pass.