I guess congratulations are in order to the Minnesota Gophers for winning the Quick Lane Bowl over Central Michigan. The Gophers finished their season with a losing record, at 6-7. But, they became eligible to play in a bowl game because, for one reason, some teams with losing records were needed to fill all 80 slots. It's unfortunate, as well as silly, that 80 of the 128 Division I teams were invited to play in bowl games this year. Many believe that teams "earn" invitations to the games because of winning records. Alas! That is no longer the case. One team, the University of Missouri, did the honorable thing by declining its invitation to a bowl game, in that it finished the season with a losing record and felt it had not earned a post-season game. Hopefully, those who make the rules regarding the bowl system will acknowledge the absurdity of the bloated number of games and require teams with winning records to be eligible for an invite. The present arrangement, which has well over half of the Division I teams in bowl games, is sheer nonsense.

Gary Altfillisch, Albert Lea, Minn.

Reasons for fleeing include torture, and we can help

It is heartening to see the ongoing coverage as the refugee crisis continues and states like Minnesota prepare to welcome even more individuals and families seeking refuge ("Minnesota prepares to receive more refugees in 2016," Dec. 28). The article does an excellent job of reminding readers that refugees from Somalia, Iraq, Burma and other countries, not just Syria, are in need of resettling.

As I read stories detailing the journeys and arrivals, I reflect on the reasons behind the flight. Many, many refugees flee because they are escaping unimaginable torture, war atrocities, human rights abuses and, very likely, war crimes. In fact, our research indicates that as many as 1.3 million refugee survivors of torture already live in the U.S. I have worked with refugees for more than 30 years and witnessed the effects of torture on children — yes, children — and adults. I have heard the gruesome details of repeated rape, beatings, starvation and other inhuman cruelty perpetrated indiscriminately. This is what thousands are running from. This is what they risk their lives to escape.

Fortunately, recovery is possible when mental health and rehabilitative care are available. The work we at the Center for Victims of Torture and other torture rehabilitation organizations do every day restores hope in ways that are humbling and necessary. Survivors of torture can and do heal, move forward, renew relationships with family and friends, and return both to self-sufficiency and to making real contributions to the community.

Curt Goering, St. Paul

The writer is executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture.

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Thank you for the interesting series on the growth of Greater Minnesota. One area you did not address is the effect of diversity on population growth and prosperity. As the state's population grows more diverse, both racially and culturally, it is worth asking whether future prosperity lies in welcoming or fearing this change. I think the history of our state shows the strength of embracing our differences. The story on the founding of Hutchinson, Minn., said so much: "The initial exploratory committee … was split evenly between poets, artists, optimists and dreamers on the one side and plain practical men on the other," but they all came to agreement ("Hutchinson's folksy town founders," Dec. 27). Perhaps, without ignoring the difficulty of welcoming strangers, our entire state can prosper in the future by embracing the demographic changes that are coming.

Carolyn Jackson, Edina

A little wine in church is fine, just respect those who don't sip

I read the article "Faith fermented" (Dec. 29) with great interest. As a retired Lutheran pastor, I am eager for more efforts to dig into the scriptures within accepting, nonjudgmental groups. To those who offer such with drinks and appetizers outside of "church basements," I offer my enthusiastic support — with a caveat.

As drinking alcohol becomes more of society's norm, there is considerable pressure to drink. Often this is subtle, in humor and conversation; sometimes it is blatant, like the woman telling me that her goal was to get me, her pastor, to drink. Or being told that I wouldn't be accepted ("not one of the boys") unless I drank alcohol. A Coke wouldn't do the job. Recently, I have attended several church gatherings where wine was served with no soft-drink option — or where the soft drinks were at a separate, inconvenient location, once in the kitchen. Most blatant was the wedding reception where there was abundant free alcohol and I had to pay $2 for my ginger ale.

I hope that the "faith fermented" groups will find ways to be welcoming to everyone, including those who have personal reasons not to drink. I don't want to pressure others to accept my reasons not to drink, but I would like others to respect the personal values of those of us who choose not to drink.

Most important, I hope that these groups don't inadvertently provide a temptation for those who should not take a drink!

The Rev. Charles D. Anderson, Red Wing, Minn.

Council member's actions have been impulsive, unethical

I was one of the people whose e-mail had a screen shot tweeted by Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano ("Cano defends posting critics' info," Dec. 31). That e-mail was only critical of her trespassing on private property. It had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. I don't even know if Cano read the e-mail; she seems a bit impulsive. I e-mailed again asking for an apology because of the "#BLM data practices requests are helpful in exposing racism" that was attached, implying that I'm a racist. She didn't tweet that one out or respond. Cano was busy getting ready for Christmas; what does she think I was doing on Dec. 24? She can protest until her hair falls out. I don't care. I grew up in the '60s and '70s. I know all about protests, and I know how social media works even though I'm old. I am sorry Cano is receiving hateful e-mails, but she is the one who started it. I guess you never know what will show up on the front page of the newspaper.

Monica Chevalier, Minneapolis

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If Cano wants to openly support Black Lives Matter, then perhaps she should step down from her council seat. If not, I would like to suggest that she take a course on civics and public speaking to learn how to address the public at large, via radio interviews as well as newspaper articles. If her racist comments about the "white supremacy community" are acceptable as a sitting member of the City Council, it would be imperative for her to be censured for the unethical behavior. The astonishing part of all of this is that she is not accepting any responsibility for her actions regarding the publishing of private constituent information on Twitter. She stated she was "too busy" to redact the sensitive information as she was running around the Mall of America. Teenagers try the "I was too busy" excuse, but that doesn't fly with teachers, parents or coaches, so why should she think it will fly? She seems to be totally oblivious to the impact of her actions. I'm glad I don't live in the Ninth Ward.

Gail Van der Linden, Minneapolis