Others are catching on to what activists knew


Word that many politicians in Washington are now questioning the value of continuing the war in Afghanistan comes as good news to us peace activists who have been protesting these wars for years.

If they and the people had only listened to us early on, they would have clearly understood the true costs of wars both in what it does to the combatants and their families but also to civilians, both foreign and domestic.

The true costs of war are now becoming more apparent to Americans, but peace activists clearly understood these costs beforehand.

These developments may now encourage you to join a peace vigil instead of simply driving by. I would suggest that you do join us soon before another war breaks out. But don't stop there.

Talk with your neighbors, your friends and your elected officials, because the United States absolutely cannot withstand the burden of another war.

Make no mistake: There are those in power who would start another war today if they could. We are in dire jeopardy of losing our security by destroying it from within if we do not stop them.


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What's needed is an appropriate motivation


I feel sympathy for Justin Kugler and his colleagues at NASA ("Give space program support, not grief," June 22).

I am sure that courage and determination are not in short supply at NASA, but what is in short supply is excitement of a type that might stir the public imagination and a political and societal willingness to take some real risks.

The Apollo program showed what could be accomplished when a challenging goal was set and when NASA was permitted to take some real risks in pursuit of that goal.

For a brief period, the agency operated at the edge of available technology, where success was far from certain, lives (voluntarily) were on the line and lives were lost.

It is true that Apollo operated under the political and financial cover of Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, but I think it is also true that NASA is seriously constrained today by our increasing cultural aversion to risk-taking.

The best thing that could happen to NASA and the space program would be for China to announce it was putting a man or woman on Mars by 2025. That might get the national juices flowing again.


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Regarding America's future role in space exploration, our first president, George Washington, might have good advice. He emphasized that any calculation should be based on an assessment of the interests of the people involved, since people will only support what is clearly in their interests.

In the 20th century, America's "interest" in space was in the context of the Cold War. In the midst of a nuclear standoff that had the capability of destroying civilization, Americans were horrified when the Soviet "Sputnik" satellite beeped overhead unanswered.

Later, the Soviets beat the United States with the first human in space. President John Kennedy had to up the ante, so he "shot for the moon." And we made it.

Now that the Cold War is over, our interest in space has to be for other reasons than inspirational propaganda victories or "space races" with other countries.

Unless we develop another pressing military threat that requires us to reinforce the "high ground" of space, what motivates America to support space exploration now must include a bottom-line focus on dollars and cents.

This might include maintaining and protecting today's complex communications and surveillance connectivity supported by space satellites, and/or accessing new forms of renewable energy or natural resources.

We already have a system of satellites, and so we only need to protect it from sabotage. The second motivation, which could be of large potential, is solar-power satellites of vast size that could replace all carbon-based energy for the planet.

Or, third, natural resources mined from the Moon or from Mars or from asteroids. Until one of those three reasons for modern interest captures America's attention, continued support for the expenditures associated with U.S. space exploration will remain modest.


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Class warfare takes us down the drain


Thank you for the June 22 Letter of the Day ("A $6,400 toilet. More proof that rich can pay higher taxes"). The writer exemplifies what many feel but are not willing to say out loud.

Class envy is ugly and hurts everyone.

Judging who is "simply too rich" or what kinds of products people should buy is exactly what this state budget fight is about. Instead of raising everyone up and reducing the taxes on the low and middle-incomes, as proposed by the Republican Legislature, our DFL governor would rather cut others down.

Gov. Mark Dayton's-tax the-rich philosophy will not create one job or help to expand Minnesota's business economy. He wants to give everyone a fish when we should be giving everyone a fishing pole (i.e., a job).

Free-market thinkers like those in the Tea Party know this, and that is why they have much in common with the most successful in our state.