Two guys (not qualified to be called men), both with a monumental lack of common sense and sense of responsibility, are reported by authorities to have killed two other men — the weapon in one case being a car and in the other, a gun (Star Tribune, Jan. 26). The “You Don’t Say” quote published on the Opinion Exchange page the same day (from a French philosopher and moralist): “From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence, who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed stupendous light.” David Frigaard, a teacher, and Anthony R. Sundholm, an emergency-room manager, were two such men of “consummate excellence.”

Will guns be better regulated when more of us are killed by them than are living? Will scum drivers be taken off the road when more of us are killed by them than remain living?

Judith A. Peterson, Bloomington


What was Editorial Board thinking?

Ironic that the Star Tribune’s opinion editors can work so much that’s right, along with so much that’s wrong, into a single editorial (“For safety’s sake, approve Keystone,” Jan. 24). On the one hand, the Editorial Board rightly concurs in the need for us to be weaned from fossil energy sources for the sake of a more stable climate. It has so indicated by its endorsement of the revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend plan, which is acknowledged as having the support of both conservative and liberal legislators.

On the other hand, the board naively regards Keystone XL as “needed to safely transport crude from Canada and the Bakken now and into the future.” How can there even be a future if we do not start shutting down the flow of crude oil now and begin seriously replacing it with renewables? Every decision like Keystone represents a critical opportunity to begin this process. Indeed, the journal New Scientist recently reported that another few tenths of a degree of global climate warming will cause uncontrollable melting of the Siberian permafrost, producing runaway warming of the Earth.

The editorial asserts that “the private sector, not the federal government, should make the ultimate decision on the project’s economic necessity.” What supreme body is going to make the decision that — economic necessity be damned — tar sands and Bakken crude need to be left in the ground? Instead of propping up this ill-fated project, the Star Tribune should be part of the hard sell to Congress that it needs to wake up and begin saving the world.

Stan Sattinger, Minneapolis

• • •

The Lakota Nation and other Native Americans in South Dakota simply will not permit construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. And with good reason. It’s their land, and it shouldn’t be used to benefit a for-profit entity that isn’t even in the United States. This pipeline would contain perhaps the dirtiest tar-sands oil in the universe as it crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, which contains perhaps the most pristine of all waters anywhere. If the pipeline bursts and oil spills into the aquifer, tell me how it’s ever going to get cleaned up. We already are facing clean-water shortages. Running a pipeline over the aquifer increases the chance of polluting this vast body of water which, among other things, sustains agricultural production in several states.

Canada should route the pipeline over its own land westward to Vancouver, from where it can be shipped to overseas destinations. In the United States, we need to build rail oil tankers that are stronger than a beer can to lessen the chance of spills along our rail routes.

Mike Hyduke, Columbia Heights

• • •

It’s all about the numbers; if the Bob Inglis revenue-neutral carbon-tax bill had been approved in 2009, we wouldn’t be talking about the Keystone pipeline now. That bill would have put a price on carbon pollution at its source, making tar-sands oil producers pay for the problems caused by the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Tar-sands oil is the most expensive to produce. The combination of a carbon tax and the current big slump in oil prices, if not killing Keystone, would have put it into a serious coma. If fossil-fuel producers pay for the true external costs of pollution, the free market will work: clean energy will replace dirty fuel. The view of the future presented by the Editorial Board is small and dirty.

Brian Nowak, Maple Plain

The writer is a group leader for the Citizens Climate Lobby and a member of the MN350 Coordinating Council.



It’s not just access, but quality, that matters

In her Jan. 26 commentary, “Broadband is best left to private sector,” Annette Meeks describes the private-sector Internet market as “flourishing and dynamic,” perhaps the first time it has ever been described as such. Comcast and Time Warner, the two biggest players in U.S. broadband, are consistently rated dead last in customer satisfaction surveys. When the average speeds and prices consumers get from these cable providers are compared with those in other First World countries, the results are not pretty. Meeks focuses a lot on broadband access, but she doesn’t mention our situation, where access is widespread but the service just isn’t very good. Smaller fiber providers are coming on the market offering much faster, cheaper service than big cable, but they are hindered by anti-competitive practices and crony capitalism, along with high upfront infrastructure costs.

“Pro-business” politicians seem to prefer giving handouts to big cable rather than promoting superior fiber networks. Whether or not you believe municipal Internet providers are the solution to our broadband woes, trying to pretend there is no problem is only going to hurt us in the age of the digital economy.

Matt Briol, Minneapolis



Those moments shape adults — and society

The other day I read Italian writer Carlo Levi’s idea that “the future has an ancient heart.” His thought suggests that who we become stems, primitively, from our earliest experiences and understanding; that life telescopes out from those early moments and that those moments shape where we land as adults.

On Monday, I read not one but four articulations on the Star Tribune’s opinion pages of how increased attention to and funding for early-childhood development programming would improve the odds that more Minnesota children would become their best selves later in life.

The abundant testimony of an economist, a physician, a writer and an educator asserts what the ancient heart knows: Apply the balm early enough, and often enough, and we just might mitigate the innumeracy, illiteracy, poverty, violence and other deficiencies that continue to vex the modern heart.

Tracy Nordstrom, Minneapolis