Congratulations, Minneapolis! After prolonged and constant attacks on law enforcement agencies by "community leaders," focusing on the rare instances of police misconduct and ignoring or excusing criminal acts, we now have the despicable acts of thugs on full display across the nation ("How safe is downtown Mpls.?" Sept. 14). Recent videos that are going viral show a man being attacked by 12 people as he lay on the sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis and are testament to the lack of concern by City Hall regarding the increasing number of violent crimes like these — which are downplayed or underreported by the local media.
The political leaders who refuse to fund more police presence, who side with the professional agitators and demoralize the police by their lack of support are wondering why this might be happening. What did you expect?
Garth Thoresen, Eagan
Look to community for best fixes
In "St. Paul agonizes over shootings, response" (Sept. 15), the city is described as "a community divided over how to respond to this latest wave of gun violence."
Mayor Melvin Carter said, "Putting an end to these cycles of violence is our highest priority." The usual politics suggest various quick fixes as valid responses to community violence. That distracts from addressing the human, root causes.
It is an oversimplification to accept race as the primary link to perpetrators and victims of violence. A more forthright resolution might indicate that the behaviors of lawbreaking young men (irrespective of race) are linked to family culture — the values and traditions of one's family, however now defined.
Political platitudes aside, former president of St. Paul's NAACP chapter, Nathaniel Khaliq, counsels that "this is a community problem and we need a community solution." And St. Paul community activist John Thompson says: "Police are not the answer — the fix-all. ... It's going to take us to fix the problems. When I say us, I mean black people."
Until leaders within the city's problematic pockets personify responsibility, accountability and morality, there is little basis for expecting socioeconomic improvements within their communities.
Gene Delaune, New Brighton
'Official Secrets' and moral courage
Columnist John Rash gets it mostly right in his Sept. 13 report on the film "Official Secrets" (" 'Official Secrets' and the open Iraq wound"), in contrast to many professional movie reviewers apparently not aware how much former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair "ran roughshod over the truth" in their zeal to gin up the disastrous war on Iraq. The true story of my friend and former British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun (also the recipient 16 years ago of the Sam Adams Award for integrity in intelligence) answers Mark Twain's old question asking why moral courage is so rare when physical courage is relatively common.
Almost no recent, post-9/11 film has been able to convey as accurately or effectively as this one the real-life ethical dilemmas confronting intelligence employees who are put in the horrible situation of knowing the truth of official planning of illegal wars based on falsified intelligence and then feeling an ethical obligation to try to do something to save lives.
Coleen Rowley, Apple Valley
The writer is a retired FBI agent.
Reducing sugar is a job for all
Beverage companies are all for reducing obesity and sugar consumption, but a recent piece ("Three in 10 Minnesota adults are obese," Sept. 13) recommends an approach that won't make the meaningful, lasting change we all want to see.
We agree that too much sugar is not a good thing. We believe the way to reduce sugar in the diet is for everyone — including Minnesota's local beverage companies — to work together on meaningful solutions that will help families balance what they eat, drink and do.
Beverage companies have taken voluntary, proactive steps to reduce the sugar and calories Minnesotans get from beverages. We have introduced more options with zero sugar or less sugar than ever before. We are expanding our offering of smaller portion sizes like mini-cans and we voluntarily removed full-calorie sodas from schools. We put clear calorie labels on the front of every bottle we sell, and we've added calorie-awareness messages on millions of vending machines and fountains. Because of these efforts, more than 50% of beverages purchased today are zero-sugar, and the number of "beverage calories" shipped to schools has been reduced by 90%.
We all need to be concerned about rising obesity rates. Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers shows that calories consumed from beverages with sugar has decreased significantly. Shouldn't obesity rates have gone down with the reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption if the two are directly correlated?
Because some beverages have sugar, beverage companies want to do their part. The better way to tackle public health challenges like obesity is for companies, government and public health officials to work together to reduce sugar consumption.
Tim Wilkin, St. Paul
The writer is president of the Minnesota Beverage Association.
Stick to science in schools — many Christians already believe evolution
I read with interest the article where the Brainerd school board chairwoman questioned the teaching of evolution in schools ("Brainerd schools leader questions teaching of evolution," Sept. 14). She was worried about the Christian students.
But evolution is supported by many mainline churches (the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Episcopal Church USA and other mainline churches). So, that would probably include a good amount of her Christian students. That does leave out some of the six-day-creation denominations, where spiritual matters vary from the scientific view of biology, but these are public schools teaching curriculum dictated by Minnesota and national teaching standards.
We teach science in our classes, not religious beliefs.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson once tweeted, "You can say Earth is flat because we have free speech, but our Constitution doesn't grant that anything you say is correct." Let's stick to science in schools.
Robert Murphy, St. Paul
A little goes a long, very cold way
I read the letter to the editor "End the scourge of air conditioning" (Sept. 16) and jumped to my feet in my old power-to-the-people stance, raised my fist in the air, and yelled ... well, wanted to yell, "Right on, dude!" But I couldn't. My lips were frozen shut. I'd just left Target.
I disagree with the letter writer on one thing: I would like business owners to use AC not only to lower the humidity but to lower the temperature a little, as well. But guys — a little goes a long way. Do you really need to keep your businesses at meat-locker temperatures?
I often wonder why I even bother to buy summer clothes. I keep a sweatshirt in my car so, even on 90-degree days, I can put it on before entering a place like Costco. And, if I plan on buying any produce at Costco, forget it — I'm pulling out the hat and gloves, as well! Some businesses may not care how less-rabid AC would help the environment, but surely they care about their bottom line. Dudes, think of what you could do with the money saved! How 'bout better holiday parties, to start? I will end with a tip for the AC-averse: Don't ever order ice cream in a restaurant that sets its thermostat below 72. I did. Once. And after I was carried out by two waiters and a busboy to a waiting car, I was put on electric-blanket-bed-rest for three days, surrounded by the music of Don Ho, a Mai Tai and an aromatherapy mix of Coppertone and sweat.
Caryn L. Schall, Minnetonka
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.