Time for difficult conversations

Much sympathy goes to the people of Oklahoma in the aftermath of the devastating tornado that killed and injured dozens while leaving many without homes (“Now ‘just sticks and bricks’ where a community stood,” May 22). Among the difficult but important conversations to have is how ongoing natural disasters in certain areas of the country seem to indicate that there are places where people should not build a home, such as along the Red River near Fargo, between the levees in New Orleans and in tornado alley near Moore, Okla., where the recent tragedy occurred. Why do insurers allow homes to be rebuilt in disaster-prone places? Who subsidizes the insurance for these places? We all do.


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Let’s not be too casual about its weapons

There are worries and then there are worries. Consider this: Former CIA Director James Woolsey tells America in the Wall Street Journal that North Korea has the ability to explode a nuclear warhead-delivered missile in the atmosphere above the United States. It would emit gamma rays sufficient to “plunge our electricity-powered civilization into a blackout lasting months or years.”

Should this nightmare scenario unfold, we 300 million Americans would be reduced to a life without power, money, food, water and transportation. Aware of the existential danger, the Obama administration has refused to fund further progress toward space-based defensive systems. Our current antimissile defenses can do nothing to prevent an attack of this sort. No matter where you stand politically, demand that your federal representatives do everything necessary to forestall the possibility of such evil directed at us.

MARK H. REED, Plymouth

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Driver’s good deed made a difference

I ride a Metro Transit bus to work. Recently, a replacement driver missed my stop due to construction and one-way streets. When he realized his mistake, he stopped his bus, walked the block and a half back to my stop, got my attention and walked me back to the bus (driving back would have been tough due to construction). This one small act delivered a message about responsibility and grace that we could all learn from. Thank you very much, sir.


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What’s legitimate and what’s a witch hunt?

A recent letter writer asked who decides when an investigation is considered fact-finding or a witch hunt (Readers Write, May 19). When a nonpartisan, independent government agency discretely investigates alleged wrongdoing by elected officials, it is fact-finding, as is the case with the investigation into Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s handling of campaign funds. It becomes a witch hunt when elected politicians, predominantly of the opposing party, follow up on these independent, nonpartisan investigations with their own public investigations that make the daily news for weeks on end while trying to influence public opinion and score political points, as is the case with Benghazi and IRS scrutiny of the Tea Party.

GLEN WEBER, Prior Lake

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Bridge collapse

First I-35W, now I-5, and what’s being done?

So, another major bridge has collapsed, this time in Washington state. Almost six years have gone by since Minnesota’s moment of shame, and what have we done? Public infrastructure spending as a share of national GDP is at its lowest level in 20 years. Republicans and Tea Partiers block any attempt at raising the funds necessary to improve the transportation network, let alone maintain and repair it, even though the investment would mean construction jobs now and economic growth for all. And what’s the obsession in D.C.? So-called scandals and austerity! Absurd.

PAMELA J. SNOPl, Minneapolis

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Crackdown on texting behind the wheel

If you don’t wear a seat belt, you are the only one who suffers the consequences. A few weeks ago there was a crackdown on DWI enforcement. I’m sure there will be another one soon. After all, it is a real cash cow. This is all well and good. Keep the roads safe. What I do not understand is why very little is done about texting. It’s an epidemic. I’ve read that it’s hard to prove if somebody is texting.

Really? The proof is readily available on the phone. The message I’m getting is that if you aren’t drinking and have your seat belt on, feel free to text away. After all, why should you be burdened with watching the road when there is important information to get out in a timely manner, such as “I am heading to the mall.” So it’s a good idea to buckle up. There’s a good chance an inattentive driver will crash into you.

TIM ROWAN, Apple Valley

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We build stadiums while poor are ignored

The Twin Cities area’s poverty rate has just been cited in a national study (“Rise in suburban poverty among the highest in nation,” May 20). If we’d put as much energy into tackling the poverty problem as we have on a new stadium for the Vikings, then we might make the list as the area that bounced back from this stigma.

MARY SIK, Willmar, Minn.