To a Jan. 15 letter writer who argued that it is an example of “left-wing judicial appeasement gone wild” that charges were dropped against protesters who blocked off Interstate 94 in St. Paul while protesting the Philando Castile shooting:

Interesting that you should choose to compare a group of protesters to a lynch mob. In the former circumstance, a group of people exercised their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly to publicly take issue with the way black Minnesotans and Minnesotans of color are treated by police, using tactics of civil disobedience in the tradition of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Jesus Christ. A few members of the group participated in agitation that resulted in minor violence. In the latter circumstance, a group of white people broke into a jail with the singular goal of murdering a falsely accused African-American, bypassing the rights of that person to due process under the law. Pardon me if I see few similarities.

The right to travel on roads is not protected by the Bill of Rights — let’s remember that the freedoms of speech, assembly and due process are. I ask that next time you take the time spent in traffic to consider why people would risk danger and arrest if all Minnesota laws and practices were indeed just.

Meg Reid, Minneapolis


Don’t malign the rich; instead help the poor help themselves

Oxfam presented a paper at Davos about wealth inequality (“Eight richest men own as much wealth as 3.6B people,” Jan. 16). They said that inequality is a problem that world leaders should do something about, and that “inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty … .”

Oxfam, and many others, have the false impression that the rich are making money at the expense of the poor. That simply is not correct. If Bill Gates and the other rich men had never been born, the world would be worse off, and the poor would be no richer. Gates has provided jobs for thousands of people and stimulated the economy by providing software that benefits millions of people. That’s why we’re willing to pay Microsoft to use the products that it develops.

A more important goal than ending inequality is to reduce poverty. Globally, the best way to do that is to further the spread of the private-property, free-enterprise system that has worked well in the U.S. and other developed nations. Within the U.S., one of the most important things we can do to reduce poverty is to improve educational outcomes.

Pundits and organizations that attempt to malign the rich may be looking for reasons to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute the proceeds to the poor. Rather than taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor, we should focus on helping the poor get themselves out of poverty through improved education and better work opportunities.

James Brandt, New Brighton


Aquaculture is a folly when we really should just not eat fish

Regading “Cargill grows its aquaculture role” (Business, Jan. 14): I appreciate the author noting the overexploitation of the world’s fish populations and the environmental impact this has on the planet. Simply put: When the oceans die, so does everything else. As Cargill works to find a more profitable way to do what is still ultimately the wrong thing — using extensive resources and developing new farming methods to “produce” fish for mass consumption — the truly sustainable and optimal choice for feeding the growing human population is splashing us all in the face. We need to stop eating fish.

As the article states, the nutrients so highly lauded by the commercial fishing industry in our aquatic neighbors, such as long-chain fatty acids, come from the plants they themselves eat. This is true of all animals, as all the protein on earth starts with photosynthesis in plants and works its way from small fish to big fish to bigger fish, as the metaphor goes. Our decision to feed the nutrients we need to another being, only to turn around and eat that being, getting the nutrient filtered and diluted, instead of just getting the nutrients from their source — plants — is akin to a child slipping his broccoli under the table to the family dog and then killing the dog for iron.

We’re all adults here. Isn’t it time we stop getting someone else to eat our vegetables for us?

Ryan Matheson, Minneapolis


Pronounce it like this

I refer to the Jan. 19 letter whose writer wondered how to pronounce the Dakota name for Lake Calhoun:

Bde Maka Ska is pronounced “buh DAY mah KAH skah.” Bde means lake, maka means earth and ska means white.

Janet Llerandi, St. Paul

• • •

An excerpt from the Portland Daily Advertiser (Portland, Maine), Oct. 19, 1833 — THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI — “A Passage from a Subaltern’s Diary”:

“We returned to Fort Snelling from our excursion to St. Anthony’s Falls by the route of the Lakes that extend from this vicinity in a successive chain as far Northwardly as the country is known. The first is Lake Kinnick-Kinnick, so called from the profuse growth on its borders of the yellow willow, the inner bark of which is scraped and gathered by the Indians, at a particular season of the year, and when dried is the famous Kinnick-Kinnick or Indian tobacco, in such general use among these tribes. They mix genuine tobacco with this, however, for smoking, whenever it can be had. This lake bears, also, the name of Lake Calhoun, and the one beyond, Lake Snelling, but as their Indian names are still quite current, it is doubtful if they be ever entirely superseded.”

So … Lake Calhoun’s Indian name was, in fact, “Lake Kinnick-Kinnick”? And, further, Lake Harriet was first known as “Lake Snelling”?

Well, at least it’s easier to pronounce.

Gregory L. LaLonde, Minneapolis


Bugged by ‘boondoggle’ crowd

Dear Mr. Bob “Again” Carney Jr.: Your Jan. 19 counterpoint article (“The transportation funding plan is moving fast”) was entertaining. I counted five references to the “LRT boondoggles.” Just because you call light rail a boondoggle does not make it so. I drove the Blue Line route along Hiawatha from Minnehaha Creek to Interstate 94. I counted eight large apartment complexes within two blocks of the light rail line. These buildings represent significant private investment (and real-estate tax base) as a direct result of that light-rail line.

In 2015, there were 23 million rides on the Green and Blue lines. Maybe you’d prefer that those people were in cars, further clogging our streets. As far as Southwest LRT, you fail to mention the support it has with businesses it will serve. Businesses on the rail line want the opportunity to draw employees from a wider area. In particular, there are parts of north Minneapolis that will be served by the Southwest line. Currently, an employee would likely have multiple bus transfers to get from north Minneapolis to employers along the southwest route.

Your last statement — that “[i]f Southwest LRT construction ever does start, every overrun dollar will be 100 percent a state and local responsibility” — was laughable. Isn’t that true of every project funded by state and local funds?

Jeffrey Benny, St. Louis Park