Long worthy of scrutiny, only now getting it

As a Muslim-born woman, I am not sure where to direct my anger. The fanatical Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls for the sin of earning an education.

This is my religion, my people?

Since many of the schoolgirls are Muslim, the Muslim world is now reacting. In Chicago, the Council of Islamic Organizations held a news conference decrying the horror. But where has the CIO been the past 10 years when Boko Haram was mostly killing scores of Christians in Nigeria? Are innocent Christians not newsworthy? Only now that Muslim children are threatened do my fellow Muslims forcefully react.

I am saddened by the rampant hypocrisy of my fellow Muslims, which is why I left the faith long ago. We must clean our own house.

Badiah Ali, Minneapolis



Here’s the key fact: It costs us a bundle

Neither Charles Lane’s May 9 commentary on mass incarceration (“The truth behind prison bars”) nor the story on the Justice Department’s rethinking of mandatory minimum sentencing (“Judges to get more leeway in drug cases,” May 11) were sufficiently clear about an important fact: Incarceration is really expensive. According to a Vera Institute of Justice survey, the average cost per prisoner per year among 40 states surveyed in 2010 was $31,307.

Then there are the opportunity costs; this is money that could not be spent on education, therapy, rehabilitation, training, health care or anything else. However, it’s likely that many of the “tough on crime” contingent would recoil in horror at the idea of spending $30,000 on a poor black kid for anything other than prison.

John Sherman, Moorhead, Minn.



Gosh, they pay well! For what contribution?

Please let the Imation Corp. know that I’m available to sit on its board of directors (“Imation board’s pay is unhinged from results,” Lee Schafer column, May 10). I’m a highly qualified retired photojournalist and nonprofit executive director and have been a businesswoman most of my life. It would certainly boost my Social Security check (for which I’m now “paying” for the 20 years I lived in Europe and thus didn’t pay into the system).

On second thought, my integrity won’t allow me to accept the “average board compensation of $288,883.” I’d rather continue serving my community by volunteering. My compensation for the numerous meetings and time devoted to the arts in Edina is the gift of making a difference in a community about which I care enormously.

Thanks, Imation, but no thanks, I’ve got to go help an artist install her new sculpture on the Promenade.

Barbara La Valleur, Edina



Overseas investment is pretty easily explained

The editors at the St. Louis Dispatch just don’t get it (“Is Pfizer poster child for tax avoidance?” Opinion Exchange, May 12). Companies that provide all of the real jobs in this world will always seek the most advantageous locales for doing business. Corporate tax rates are a major criterion in the decisionmaking calculus. If the federal government continues to keep corporate taxes high while simultaneously increasing the already mountainous regulations under which U.S. businesses must operate, more businesses will leave or expand overseas.

Capitalism requires people, businesses and, yes, governments to compete. Unless our elected officials in Washington decide to compete on the world stage to attract both the establishment and growth of businesses, the U.S. government will have little hope in attracting the $2 trillion-plus in capital held overseas by U.S. companies. These businesses will invest it elsewhere, as Pfizer is legally attempting to do.

John Hillen, Minnetonka



Industry takes safety concerns seriously

Contrary to the assertions made in a May 7 editorial (“Face up to threat of oil transport mishaps”), the oil industry takes seriously its commitment to safety.

We are proud of our track record showing that energy transport via rail and pipeline moves materials without incident 99.99 percent of the time. Still, we appreciate that just one incident is one too many. That is why we continually strive to remove risk from our operations. We have assembled top scientists, engineers, and the best experts from our industry, the railroad industry and others to develop a standard for classifying, handling and transporting crude oil.

Even in a tightly run system, however, accidents occur — a reality that is essential in supporting our mission of safeguarding the public. We collaborate with first responders and the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve emergency-responder training by sharing our existing expertise in responding to petroleum incidents to develop the most robust training programs available.

Erin T. Roth, Madison, Wis.


The writer represents the Wisconsin-Minnesota Petroleum Council.



Respectful coverage would’ve been reversed

I have a pretty good sense of humor, but I didn’t see the need for Neal Justin (“Her most fascinating moments,” Variety, May 12) to make a joke of Barbara Walters on her retirement. The presentation on the back page of the Variety section (“You’ve come a long way, Barbara”) would have been better suited for the front, giving Walters the respect she deserves after her trailblazing career. Ironic that Justin reports that she is a “founding mother” and that it is painful for him to recall how “sexist the business was when she began carving out her career,” while making questionable jokes at her expense. He also admits that she “bugs me.” Probably not the best time for him to try comedy.

Sandra Boes O’Brien, Minneapolis