We must try to satisfy competing interests

Unlike much of what has appeared in the media on Ukraine, the March 6 commentary by John Mazis (“A fight we can’t win and Russia can’t lose”) provides some clear thinking and valuable historical perspective on Vladimir Putin’s actions. As George Kennan told us during the Cold War, much of what those in Moscow do is not because they’re communists but because they’re Russians. Russia has looked at Crimea and access to the Black Sea as a vital national interest since the time of Peter the Great. Instead of beating our chests about Putin’s crimes and possible punishment, we ought to be focusing on searching for a solution that would satisfy Russia’s legitimate interests as well as those of Ukrainian patriots and our allies in NATO. It can be done.

Richard A. Virden, Plymouth

• • •

I’m not smart enough to know what is right or wrong when it comes to foreign policy, but I did stay awake in history class. We are fighting a losing war in Afghanistan, and now we’re getting involved in Crimea. Is the United States 19th-century England? For heaven’s sake, what’s next? The Boers?

Todd Hughes, Minneapolis



Management is part of the problem

After reading the March 7 story about the Twin Cities area’s increasing gridlock, I thought I would share my experience driving south on Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis.

At 28th Street, the countdown timer for the green light still had 24 seconds on it after traffic had cleared. Meanwhile, dozens of cars needlessly idled on Hiawatha.

At 42nd Street, northbound Hiawatha traffic had a green light while the majority of traffic, southbound, inexplicably sat at a red.

At virtually every other light, I watched car after car race under the dropping crossing arms to beat the approaching train. Can someone please explain to me the logic in having cross traffic greenlighted as a train is approaching?

At other lights, the cross streets had two or three times the green light time the main thoroughfare had.

These scenarios are the rule, not the exception. Hiawatha is a major road. It runs parallel to the light-rail tracks. In no way should it be affected as adversely as it is by those tracks.

This needs to be fixed. Yesterday.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville



Calls for research seem more like a tactic

For more than 100 years, marijuana by any name (gage, hash, weed, etc.) has been commonly used. After it was criminalized, with every call to decriminalize it there has been a perceived need for more research (“Marijuana, fine, but is it medical?” March 6).

I leave conspiracy theories to others. However, with a documented need for research on all aspects of marijuana use, the salient question is: Why has it never been allowed to go forward?

John Holmquist, Minneapolis

• • •

In 1970, Congress impaneled the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, the largest-ever scientific inquiry into marijuana. Conducted by Harvard University, the inquiry did not investigate medical marijuana, but its views on marijuana nearly 45 years ago are useful:

• “The Boston subjects showed no lassitude, indifference, carelessness in personal hygiene or lack of productivity — all supposed to be characteristic of very heavy use.”

• “Withdrawal from very heavy marijuana use (in studies of Jamaica’s ganja and Greece’s hashish) may produce restlessness, insomnia and anxiety very similar to tobacco withdrawal.”

• “The overwhelming majority of marijuana users do not progress to other drugs. Only 2% become heavy marijuana users.”

• “Marijuana is inaccurately classified … as a ‘habit-forming’ drug leading to dependence.”

• “The adult recreational user is not generally viewed as a significant social problem.”

• “Individuals tend to smoke only the amount necessary to achieve the desired drug effect.”

• “There is widespread doubt about the rationale for making the conduct illegal.”

• “There is little likelihood that marijuana can change the basic personality structure of the individual to any significant degree.”

• “There is no compelling reason in marijuana’s effects, individual or social, to justify government invasion of a private home to prevent personal use.”

William Boudreau, Minneapolis


Minimum wage

I’ve never heard a gripe from those who get tips

We’re lucky to have a vibrant restaurant and bar scene in the Twin Cities. It’s fueled by enthusiastic customers, passionate staff and forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

As a part-time bartender in Minneapolis, I’m privileged to be making good money from my employer and, most important, from the guests at my bar. It’s no secret — anyone in a “tipped” job knows that their base wage is not what pays their bills. Tips pay the bills. No tipped co-worker of mine has ever complained about the size of their hourly wage.

Minnesota legislators are considering a minimum-wage increase, but one size does not fit all. If their plan isn’t changed, it will force bars and restaurants to cut back on employee hours and raise prices. It will hurt the very employees legislators claim to be helping.

Al Baker, Minneapolis



Just to be perfectly technically clear …

In his March 7 column, James Lileks writes: “If you hit someone on the head, that’s assault. If you say you’re going to hit them on the head, that’s battery.” Actually, it’s the other way around. I refer you to Black’s Law Dictionary, Revised Fourth Edition, 1968, which has been my faithful companion since law school in the 1970s. According to Black’s: “The actual offer to use force to the injury of another person is assault; the use of it is battery …” (Harris v. State, 15 Okl. Cr. 369, 177 P. 122, 123).

It’s best to avoid both offenses, whatever the order.

James M. Dunn, Edina