Is airspace grab an attempt for Taiwan?

In the news to date on the disputed air zone in the East China Sea, the rather obvious endgame plan of China has yet to be mentioned: control over Taiwan ("China forces Obama to flesh out Asia strategy," Nov. 28). Annexing Hong Kong some 20 years ago was a start in this direction; acquiring what Beijing considers a renegade province is a political goal that outweighs its current (and clumsy) attempts to control airspace.

PHIL TICHENOR, Brooklyn Park


Star Tribune series, plus legislation, help

A heartfelt thank you to Star Tribune reporter Pam Louwagie for her in-depth and frank coverage of human trafficking in Minnesota ("Saving Bobbi," Nov. 17-20). As chief author of Minnesota's 2011 Safe Harbor Legislation, I joined forces with advocates, law enforcement groups and others to end human trafficking in our state. I met with young people — like Bobbi Larson, who was featured in the series — and quickly learned that she, and the many others like her, was a victim and that our laws should reflect this reality.

Louwagie's reporting highlighted the urgent need for statewide shelters designed to help sexually exploited youths. If such support had been available to Bobbi earlier in her life, her suffering might have been mitigated.

Bobbi's story should galvanize us to prevent others from having to endure such a tragedy. To do so requires awareness and resources. Recently, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a news conference at 180 Degrees during which she celebrated the groundbreaking of a new state-funded shelter for sexually exploited youths. She also described her bipartisan "Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act," or the SETT bill. I am grateful to Klobuchar for taking our Minnesota model to the national stage, and I am eager to be part of the effort to halt sex trafficking in Minnesota and the nation.

State Sen. SANDY PAPPAS, DFL-St. Paul


A chemist speaks of its dangers

I am a chemist by training and spent more than 30 years working for state and federal regulatory agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with most of my career spent in water quality and waste management, much of it in mining. I read the Nov. 27 article ("Before copper pit opens, expansion debate begins") on the possible threefold expansion of the PolyMet copper-nickel sulfide mine and plans for doubling or tripling the processing of copper and tailing waste disposal at the old LTV plant.

What the article failed to explain is the enormous effect that such planned expansion would have on the contamination of drinking water, streams and wetlands that would result if such an expansion were to proceed. Mine pits, underground mines, waste rock piles and tailing waste facilities all leak and seep numerous chemical contaminants into nearby waters. For one example, the combination of sulfuric acid compounds and metals released from sulfide mine facilities is toxic to aquatic life. Many of the chemicals produced by sulfide mining, such as arsenic (carcinogenic), manganese (neurotoxic) and methylmercury (neurotoxic, particularly to developing brains of the fetus, infants and children) also create significant human health risks.

It would be irresponsible for the DNR or other regulators to consider approving the PolyMet NorthMet sulfide mine and tailings waste facility without careful environmental review of planned expansions of both mining and copper-nickel processing as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

BRUCE L. JOHNSON, Stacy, Minn.


Some perspective on the supposed 'war'

On Nov. 26, I read — with enjoyment, as usual — Jon Tevlin's column ("It's beginning to look a lot like (shh) Christmas"). I've long been embarrassed at the antics of some of my fellow Christians (for example, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck) who claim to be victims of persecution because some shop merchants use the phrase "happy holidays" and government buildings don't display manger scenes.

Later, I read about a series of (failed, fortunately) car bomb attacks in Belfast, apparently aimed at shopping and tourist activity near an outdoor Christmas market. "The people who attacked Belfast want to wreck Christmas," the city's mayor was quoted as saying.

Here in the United States, Christians are free to shop 'til we drop — from exhaustion, not bombs — and to celebrate the season unmolested in any number of churches, theaters and concert venues, from Black Friday through the twelfth day of Christmas. So here is my holiday greeting to Ms. Palin, Mr. Beck and their fellow hysterics: For God's sake, grow up.

ANNE HAMRE, Roseville