If there isn't one, let's see the evidence

Prof. William Beeman claims that congressional resolutions aimed at pressuring Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities are indefensible ("Congress is about to pour lighter fluid on Iran," Sept. 4). "The resolutions," he argues, "contain outright falsehoods, misinformation and alarmist exaggeration about Iran and its nuclear program."

Or rather, he doesn't argue but asserts. In his piece, he doesn't provide a shred of evidence for this crucial claim.



Natural disasters are no reason to kill a city

I read a Sept. 4 letter in which the writer seemed to think that the solution to New Orleans is to cut it off from our country and declare an "each man for himself" approach.


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A reader writes we should "quit wasting money on New Orleans" and relocate residents by redrawing the coastline, moving them out of the flood zone. Should we also move people away from the river in Iowa? The coastline of Florida? North Carolina? Should we move the people off the fault lines in California? Out of the fiery Hollywood hills in the dry summer? Today?

One billion dollars in aid goes to war-torn Georgia. The cost of the war in Iraq is more than $500 billion!

I can see the letter writer's point, but Katrina pounded 300 miles of coastline in devastating fashion, and sadly much of it still sits untouched.

New Orleans is rich with history, tradition and an important gateway to America. It would be sad not to rebuild it.



As a former New Orleans native, I found the Sept. 4 letter writer's "common-sense" view to redraw the Louisiana Gulf coastline and exclude New Orleans from current and future Katrina disaster assistance heartless and hypocritical.

Should the same standard apply to other parts of the country that have experienced annual or occasional natural disasters, like in California, Florida or parts of Minnesota? What we're paying for in Louisiana isn't a natural disaster but decades of human error, ineffective leadership and corruption by all levels of government, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.



A healthy partnership

In August, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued "F as in Fat," a report that showed how the obesity epidemic is causing "a health crisis" in America.

The message was that we eat too much and we exercise too little -- and although we know both of these things are true, it hasn't changed our behavior. In fact, unless we start down a different path, the report pointed out, 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2015.

Two weeks later, however, during the Republican National Convention, a partnership between Humana and Bikes Belong presented a very different vision for the future: one full of health and physical activity. A thousand bikes were brought to Minneapolis-St. Paul as part of the nation's largest bike-sharing program, and convention delegates plus Minnesota residents took the opportunity to ride for free.

They had fun: Some took leisurely trips over the Mississippi and the Stone Arch Bridge. Others traveled the marked bike lanes of downtown. Over the course of four days, nearly 2,000 rides were taken in Minneapolis and St. Paul, more than 15,000 miles were traveled, and 469,000 calories were burned -- not bad, considering the heat and the rain of the first two days.

The week before the Freewheelin' program was in Minnesota, it had been at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Both cities provided a great backdrop for the virtues of bicycling.

In Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak was like a third partner. He was a big advocate for what we were doing, and he led several group rides. He also has committed to starting a permanent bike-sharing program in Minneapolis next spring.

His enthusiastic response and that of the diverse group that rode our Freewheelin' bikes -- young, old; dressed up for work, dressed down for hot-weather recreation -- lead us to believe that what went on in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Denver may be the start of a movement.

That would be good news for public health as well as good news for the health of the planet. It also would be another history-making event to attribute to what were already two historic political conventions.




AND Tim Blumenthal,

executive director, Bikes Belong,

Boulder, Colo.

community organizing

Volunteers should be honored, not mocked

In recent years Republicans have pushed for government funding for faith-based community initiatives, recognizing that on-the-ground work has the opportunity to address local needs better than a government agency.

How disappointing it was to hear Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin disparage Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's community-organizing past. Her dismissive remarks lead me to wonder which forms of community service matter to Gov. Palin. Does my service as a Peace Corps volunteer count?

I think community organizing and volunteer service are an important expression of patriotism and a valuable experience, despite not being an elected position.


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Note to Sarah Palin and the Republicans: Jesus was a community organizer.


A green future

Homegrown energy would rev up economy

Americans are hurting as we lose more jobs. We lost 84,000 jobs n August alone, and the unemployment rate has risen to 6.1 percent.

Transportation and energy costs are skyrocketing, making the cost of doing business go up. If we want to reverse the economic downturn, we need to solve our economic and environmental problems.

Homegrown energy would create tens of thousands of jobs here in Minnesota and millions across the country. It would also make us more energy independent -- that's good news regardless of your political affiliation.

No matter what happens in the elections, our leaders need to be working now to create new jobs and set us on the right path. Minnesotans of all stripes should call for green jobs and clean, homegrown energy. That's the way to a strong economy.