It is interesting to read how farm income was down last year despite corn yields being up by more 30 percent (“State’s farm incomes take a hit,” April 1). The ag community (chemical suppliers and farmers) are continuing to drive for more yield at the expense of polluting all the waterways — streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands in our state and those downstream from us. The phosphates and nitrates in our water are at extraordinary and increasing levels. It is imperative that litigation be initiated for the ag community to pay for its pollution. A per-acre tax on every nonorganic acre of farmland to be paid by the ag producer and the chemical suppliers — perhaps that will help pay for the remediation of our water, our waterways and rural water wells.
Roger Stoick, Bloomington
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Can someone tell me why the researchers at the University of Minnesota waste their time genetically modifying corn to increase yield when its only apparent net effect is to lower the price of corn, instead of doing something productive like modifying a row crop to grow vanilla beans or cocoa beans or coffee beans?
Bill Gamble, Hopkins
JAMAR CLARK CASE
Don’t draw certain conclusions based on this DNA evidence
Both the Star Tribune’s March 31 news coverage about Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s decision in the Jamar Clark case (“Freeman cites wealth of evidence) and its editorial (“Justice done, peace needed in Clark case”) drew conclusions that aren’t warranted from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s DNA analysis on the grip of Minneapolis police officer Mark Ringgenberg’s gun.
The BCA’s report states that Ringgenberg and Clark “cannot be excluded from being possible contributors.” “Cannot be excluded” means the BCA can’t say that Clark’s DNA wasn’t on the grip of Ringgenberg’s gun. It also doesn’t mean the BCA can say that it was. It means the BCA can’t say for sure one way or the other.
However, both the news story and editorial state that Clark’s DNA was found on the grip of Ringgenberg’s gun. That’s just plain wrong.
It turns out that Clark’s DNA was found on Ringgenberg’s holster and mace holder. This could have happened during the scuffle without Clark’s trying to grab Ringgenberg’s gun.
The DNA evidence does support the officers’ version of events more than it does the witnesses’ stories that have Clark being shot in cold blood while he was handcuffed. However, you need to be careful about reading things into a report that just aren’t there.
Mike Wallis, Edina
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I find it impossible to believe that the only recourse that the cops had was to shoot Jamar Clark in the head. This sounds more like an execution than like police work. I understand that people respond instinctively when under duress. Since the cops’ instinct was to kill, there needs to be a drastic change in how they are trained. Why did the cop draw his gun and not his nightstick? Can’t two big cops subdue one smaller man who is drunk? The whole thing is shameful and disgusting and reeks of racism.
During the Aquatennial one year, I saw a drunken white man jump on the back of a white policeman. They both fell hard to the ground, the drunk on top of the cop. Some other cops helped them to their feet. Everybody laughed. If the drunk had been black and in north Minneapolis, what would have happened? I guarantee no one would have laughed and calmly helped the two men to their feet. White cops’ instincts tell them that black men are lethal and lethal force must be used against them. White cops’ continual refrain is, “I feared for my life.” And that is considered a valid excuse each time a black man ends up dead as a result of this fear.
Their instincts are wrong. Their fears must be challenged. Cops have to find other ways of dealing with difficult situations like subduing people who are out of control — whether they be drunk, mentally ill or just plain furious. Shooting them in the head must never be the only option. It must never be any of the options ever, ever again.
Chris Cinque, Minneapolis
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The author of the April 1 commentary about Michael Brown and Jamar Clark “doing something stupid” displays an incredible lack of understanding of real-life police work and split-second life-or-death decisions.
The writer also seems to lack any understanding of what really occurred in these two highly publicized confrontations. A 6-foot-5-inch, 290-pound man (Brown) leaning into a squad car, punching officer Darren Wilson and attempting to take his service pistol rises to some level far above “scaring officer Darren Wilson.” Similarly, Clark was not killed because he refused to be handcuffed, but because he, too, was attempting to disarm the arresting officer. The commentary’s author might also be interested in knowing that, according to FBI records, “unarmed” suspects have killed 57 police officers with their own weapons, this just since 2000. Finally, the author claims that Brown and Clark both were killed because they were black. That’s an outrageous statement, and I would suggest that any suspect stupid enough to attempt to seize an officer’s weapon (no matter their color) would suffer the same fate.
John B. Murphy, Maple Grove
Abortion comments actually bring key questions to the fore
Donald Trump has opened a conversation that has been carefully avoided in the anti-abortion movement: How could we effectively enforce a ban on abortions? The easy course is to insist that only providers of the illicit service would be prosecuted, and that is where the attention has been focused so far with protests at clinics. However, the service only exists because there is a demand for it. Eliminating all legitimate medical services will leave women who seek an abortion to fend for themselves with whatever means can be brought back from the 1950s. But then we have the dilemma of whether to prosecute medical providers who care for women with botched abortion attempts. There must be a reasonable compromise on this issue.
N. Edward Briesemeister, Delano
Our world is still an amazing place, here’s an example
This is a letter of gratitude. Too often, we write letters of complaint. On March 17, I finished packing for my daughter/mother spring break trip to Mexico the next day. Celebrating friendships and upcoming graduation from high school. Months of planning. As I finished packing, my husband went to the safe to get the passports. Mine had expired. Months ago. I was sad. Embarrassed. Pissed. And I stood there in total disbelief as I told my daughter she could still go, but I likely wouldn’t be able to make the trip. Tears. Many. My husband and I started to research “what to do with expired passport and imminent travel.” Stories popped up. Best-case scenario? Six- to seven-hour turnaround. Highly unlikely, but possible.
My husband frantically filled out paperwork and wrote a check for expedition charges. I drove to Kinko’s to get my passport pictures taken. Arrived at the Minneapolis Federal Building the next morning at 6:45 a.m. It opened at 8:30. Flight to Mexico at 10:40 that same morning. Ran out of the Federal Building at 9:20 a.m. (yes, 50 minutes later) with a new passport in hand. Made my flight. Yes!
Why? Person after person in the Federal Building and Passport Agency was willing to assist — from the security guards to the receptionist to the employees behind the window. Each and every one said with a smile, “We’ll see what we can do, ma’am.” And they did. And I am forever grateful. I’m still amazed at the service, the smiles, the stories of “you’d be surprised how often this happens.” Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Trip of a lifetime with my daughter.
Mary Kosir, St. Paul