As an octogenarian, I was attracted to the fish story “Monster sturgeon is a catch for the ages” (Feb. 14). Although the article doesn’t specifically say the fish was released, all I can see is a stately old-timer desperately and painfully (what’s uglier than a treble hook?) fighting for its life against insurmountable odds. With a tip of the hat, it deserved to be released back into the wild, and it looks like that is what Darren Troseth and his helpers did. Thanks, guys.

Dick Gist, Princeton, Minn.

Opinion editor’s note: A later version of the article at StarTribune.com confirms that the fish was released back into the St. Croix River.

• • •

How long did this sentient creature suffer with three hooks in her mouth when, in the Star Tribune’s words, “the fun began,” and did this 60- to 70-year-old fish survive the trauma? Catch-and-release hook injuries can cause severe injuries to the jaws, throat and gills, leading to uncounted deaths from infection and inability to feed. How long was this fish struggling for her life before the ice hole was eventually enlarged so she could be pulled out of the water?

Killing or injuring animals as a recreational activity and making them suffer is neither sporting nor, with modern equipment, a manly challenge. It is anathema to traditional and subsistence hunters and an anachronism in this modern age with increasing awareness of animal consciousness and respect for life.

Michael W. Fox, Golden Valley

U.S. REP. ILHAN OMAR

Commentary in defense of her cannot be taken seriously

Ahmed Tharwat (“In apologizing, Omar caved in to intimidation,” Feb. 14) is entitled to his defense of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s indefensible anti-Semitic tweets, but not his fanciful facts. Odd that if the “average Muslim” in his native Egypt “spoke fondly of Jewish people,” there now remain only about a dozen native Jews living there, when once there were tens of thousands. Even more ludicrous is his assessment that “anti-Semitism does not now thrive” in the Arab lands from which hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled following Israel’s emergence. That represented not the “beheading of the [nonexistent] nation of Palestine,” but the return to Jewish sovereignty in their historic homeland.

Accusations of anti-Semitism are not thrown around lightly. Mere criticism of Israel never makes the cut. Its supporters would welcome serious, informed discussion of its policies and practices, which are more than defensible, but not arguments as to whether or not Israel should exist. Obsessively singling out the world’s one Jewish majority state for constant caustic criticism, or pillorying its supporters with classic anti-Semitic tropes, certainly does merit such opprobrium. Quoting the reprehensible Illan Pappé is particularly pathetic.

Voters in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District deserve much better than Omar’s current bigoted lashing out at Israel and its supporters. That’s why the founders provided the most effective remedy: two-year terms in the House.

Richard D. Wilkins, Syracuse, N.Y.

• • •

Tharwat’s commentary is propaganda, and is ignorant of why Omar’s anti-Semitic tweet is anti-Semitic. First, he writes “… Muslims think of themselves as victims of the Holocaust because it led to the establishment of the Jewish state in the heart of the Middle East, beheading the nation of Palestine.” There was no nation of Palestine when Israel declared its independence from Britain in 1948. Britain controlled the territory at the time, and the Ottoman Empire controlled it before the Brits. There has never been a nation of Palestine, and the people who live in the region are divided between the terrorist strongholds of Hamas vs. the Palestinian Authority, which controls 85 percent of the West Bank. Regarding anti-Semitism, Omar’s tweet delegitimizes the only Jewish state in the world because it infers that Israel’s existence and U.S. support are only because Jews are paying Congress for it via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and wealthy Jews, and because the only Jewish state is singled out unjustly for criticism among all the countries of the world, like Syria and Iran, and the leadership of Hamas and many other terrorist organizations that actually do commit crimes of human rights and murder.

Marc Grossfield, St. Louis Park

aTTITUDES TOWARD HCMC

Please understand the role

I have read with interest the articles regarding HCMC recently after the resignation of our CEO. I have been disturbed by the negative feeling of all of them; however, “HCMC’s next chief faces a big challenge” (Feb. 13), with its statements by Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, was quite startling, to say the least.

The article cited Opat as saying that a loss of $20 million per year may seem small for a health care organization with nearly $1 billion in revenue, “but you’re not supposed to be losing $20 million. You’re supposed to be making $40 million.”

Mr. Opat — you are an elected official. Do you not know what the term “safety net hospital” means? We care for thousands of people who are ill, poor and unable to afford health care. Not all of our patients are poor. Some have private insurance — we do not differentiate between our patients.

As an employee of Hennepin Healthcare, as we are now known, I, like all of my co-workers, am proud of the work we do and love the population we serve.

I, too, hope the next chief “finds efficiencies that put the health care system back in the black,” but I am astounded by your statement and expectation that we should be making “$40 million.” It feels born of ignorance of what every employee of this health care system works toward every day — to provide the very best of care to everyone who walks through our doors.

Pamela Noone, New Brighton

• • •

HCMC is one of the state’s most valuable assets, and it is essential that we not ignore its medical excellence. Minnesota very likely has the best overall health care system in the U.S., and HCMC is a vital player not only in providing top-level care, which I can personally attest to, but also in the training of medical personnel.

As an urban facility with a huge emergency-service component, it provides true quality care to all regardless of income. Given the incredible complexity of today’s health care reimbursement systems, financial challenges are real, and the answer lies with top-level oversight of quality management. The Hennepin County Board, in the process of review, should focus on the oversight role to make certain that problems are identified early and properly dealt with.

But, if anyone doubts the superb medical care, stop by the emergency room on a Saturday night. You will see “miracle workers in white.”

Arne H. Carlson, Minneapolis

The writer was governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999.

WINTER WEATHER

Some praise, some criticism

I am late in congratulating the plow drivers who came down our side road; they did a fantastic job reaching all the way to the curb. And kudos to all my neighbors for not leaving their cars parked in their way.

What I would like to encourage is for people shoveling, and particularly blowing, that they help the environment, particularly the diminishing water tables, by aiming for their big empty, front and backyards! For some reason when the boulevards get sky-high, or worse, people shove or blow the snow out to the streets or across the alleys — both illegal, but they could just as easily point to the wide-open yards and fill ’er up! For pete’s sake, you can’t do anything in your yard until the snow melts anyway. If you aim for the yard, you don’t even have to worry about weeding until the snow is gone! How ’bout that?

And a little hint: If you shovel all the way to even a few blades of grass on the edges, instead of a skinny path down the middle of a wide sidewalk, the snow will melt into the ground, and you’ll have a dry sidewalk when that sun comes out, instead of the inevitable melting-and-freezing cycles on that skinny path, making it dangerous for you, the neighbors (and all those dogs).

Keep up the good work, plow drivers!

Elizabeth Rosenwinkel, Minneapolis