CLASSIFIED INFORMATION

Why is release OK?

In a Dec. 19 editorial, the Star Tribune states, "Concern that [CIA videotapes] might have fallen into the wrong hands is overblown, considering the vast amount of information that the CIA routinely keeps from the wrong hands." Overblown really?

So I guess the publishing of the CIA's secret prisons, Abu Ghraib photos, terrorist wiretapping, tracking of terrorist financial network, as well as the releases of our interrogation methods and NIE briefings is overblown, too. There are laws against releasing classified information without approval of the person classifying it. But those are overblown, too?

I guess there are two types of classified information -- one that's a state secret and not OK to release, such as Valerie Plame's name, and another that, if it embarrasses the president, helps the enemy operate, recruit and communicate, is OK. I was actually glad that they destroyed those tapes, because at least now they won't end up on the evening news or in your newspaper.

ANDY GORDINIER, BROOKLYN PARK

SMOKERS OUTSIDE

Law and effect

I want to thank the writer of "Enough is enough" (Readers Write, Dec 15). When I read the letter from the woman who asked smokers to smoke far away from the doorways, I had the exact same reaction. No.

You fought to get us outside; fine, we're out here. Now you can deal with the consequences.

Maybe those contained smoking rooms inside weren't such a bad idea after all, huh?

DIANNE SALMON, ANDOVER

SOLO'S HOME

Why not try a zoo?

I simply do not understand why we must resort to killing Solo because the bear has become too friendly with humans (Star Tribune, Dec. 18). If this bear is not afraid of people and it would not be a problem to relocate her cubs, why not simply remove the animal and place it in one of the zoos around the state? This would allow thousands of other people to enjoy her company as well.

Killing this animal is cruel and only provides an easy fix for those unwilling to think of a better idea.

KARI FREEMAN, PLYMOUTH

RELIGION ON CAMPUS

Alive at Normandale

I am a part-time student at Normandale Community College. While wandering the halls Tuesday I noticed a flier advertising "Intervarsity Christian Fellowship," a group that meets regularly on campus for socializing, Bible study and prayer. On other bulletin boards, I discovered other Christian groups, an Oromo student association, a group for vets returning to school, a juggling club and other groups allowed to meet on campus. There was even a group of German club students wandering the halls singing German Christmas carols! What would columnist Katherine Kersten say about this display of religiosity at a MnSCU institution?

Normandale College seems to be on a precipitous path: an irrevocable slide toward meeting the needs of its diverse population.

MARGARET SULLIVAN, MINNEAPOLIS

COMPASSIONATE WHITES

Jones can't see it

Syl Jones' Dec. 17 column asks, "Can you accept the bitter truth about whites?" What exactly is the truth about whites? If he thinks we are all a bunch of "semiliterate haters" he obviously doesn't know many of us. Some of us are decent, compassionate people who care about our community and the people in it. Too bad his own racism blinds him from understanding that.

MARK ANDERSON, MINNEAPOLIS

FOOD PRICES AND HUNGER

Do you see the canary?

The Dec. 16 Star Tribune reported that food prices climbed 5.3 percent this year ("Inflation puts bite on new item: Food"). A century ago, coal miners kept a caged canary in their mine to detect lethal gases. A dead canary meant danger. Hunger is the miner's canary in our affluent society. Like gases, hunger is invisible, insidious and dangerous if ignored.

Low-income families spend 20 percent of their income for food compared with 7 percent for the average family. With wage increases averaging 3 percent, thousands of low-income Minnesotans can't keep up with rising costs. Many skimp on groceries to pay for utilities or rent or medicine. In a state that produces surplus food, a growing number of Minnesotans are turning to food shelves. Children suffer disproportionately; they don't develop or learn as well as those who eat. People who lack adequate nutrition are sick more often; lacking insurance, they seek costly help later at emergency rooms. Children are our future workforce, citizens and tax payers. Second Harvest Heartland and its network of agencies are working to end hunger in Minnesota but we can't do it alone. Minnesotans must reach a consensus that hunger is unacceptable. To end hunger, we must expand public, private and nonprofit collaborations. If we fail to feed hungry Minnesotans now, we will pay a greater price later.

NEWELL SEARLE, ST. PAUL;

VICE PRESIDENT, EXTERNAL RELATIONS,

SECOND HARVEST HEARTLAND