Has Minneapolis become Mogadishu? Anyone who lived recently in Mogadishu for even a short period won’t wonder why a surveillance plane circles over downtown Minneapolis at low altitude in the middle of the night (“Low-flying plane raises eyebrows,” May 29). The problem for most Americans is that they don’t realize the nation is in an unconventional war. Back in 2013, in my third night in Mogadishu, I was awakened by noise of a plane at 3 a.m. While I knew the area was home to a lot of bad guys who engage in dirty war in the dark, what scared me most was the motive of the plane flying over my guesthouse. The situation got worse when a colleague told me: “It is conducting a surveillance business.” Now, two years later, spotting a surveillance plane over an American city to capture images of “pedestrians and vehicles who come to their attention” is never fun. It shows the inability of our law-enforcement system to keep us safe.
Abdiqani Farah, Minneapolis
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On a recent evening, we were sitting on our patio enjoying the nice warm weather. Between airplanes flying overhead and a neighbor mowing his lawn, we heard the buzz of a drone aircraft. There it was, hovering above us like something out of a science-fiction movie, staring directly at us. It had four rotors. Then it moved to a neighbor mowing his lawn. Then back to us. After seeing about 10 minutes of this voyeurism, I called the police. They arrived within two minutes, at which time the drone had landed half a block away, where I met the drone’s owners and operators. They claimed they were filmmakers and were flying the drone over a public street. The officers were very polite and respectful. No laws had been broken.
In the past month, we have had a scrapper searching through a construction dumpster across the street. We have had someone stop in front of our house and take photos through the front window and race away. Privacy and intrusion is a big concern. Our neighbor who had been mowing his lawn had independently called the police about the drone out of concern for his children, who had been playing outside and who probably had been filmed.
Now, there are toy helicopters, and then there are much bigger drones with four or more rotors. Cities should have the authority to regulate these intrusive drones. They should require a permit to operate them or the drones should be subject to confiscation.
Joseph Kapusta, St. Louis Park
Fares cover 36 percent of costs; is that to be celebrated?
For months, light-rail advocates have been crowing about how popular the Green Line is. On Friday, we were reminded that light-rail riders pay none of the capital costs of the line, and only 36 percent of the operating costs (“Fares cover more than a third of Green Line expenses,” May 29). Metropolitan Council Chairman Adam Duininck called this a “strong showing.”
Given that this program has been such a success, I propose that the state give everyone a car, then pay 64 percent of the insurance, fuel, maintenance and registration costs of operating it. I bet this program will be so popular we won’t need light rail anymore.
Next, the state should give everyone a house, and pay 64 percent of the insurance, property tax, utilities and maintenance costs. I’m sure this program will be tremendously popular, too.
As light rail has proved, paying for things is overrated. Let’s just give people what they want!
Gregg J. Cavanagh, Maple Grove
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Roads are 100 percent subsidized by taxpayers, but the May 29 article applies a different (double) standard to rail and bus transit. It states that: “With more fare-paying customers, revenue has exceeded forecasts, meaning less money is needed to subsidize each ride.” Would the writer ever apply the same measuring stick to vehicular traffic or roads and freeways? (Of course not.) Moreover, would the writer ever mention that the polluting emissions level of light rail is zero and that light-rail transit takes tens of thousands of road-damaging, pollution-emitting cars off the roads every day?
Doug Ellingson, Richfield
This symbol does not honor war; it honors our fallen comrades
The Star Tribune on May 24 wrote an outstanding editorial on the wearing of the poppy, which has been an American and Allied tradition since World War I. Unfortunately, the editorial dredged out two letters to the editor that put a negative slant on a wonderful proposal.
One suggested that the poppy somehow honors wars that were not honorable. The poppy became a strong symbol during the 1920s of the thousands who had died in Flanders Fields and other places in the Great War. Since then, it has continued to remind us of the sacrifice of those who died so that this country could survive with our freedom intact. It does not honor war, it honors our fallen comrades.
The second letter indicates that money from poppy sales will go toward supporting “the right-wing agenda of the American Legion.” The American Legion is a nonpartisan organization whose agenda supports a strong America, a strong national defense, and reasonable benefits and programs for our returning veterans. Poppies are not sold. All of the money that is earned from poppy donations goes directly back into help for veterans. Neither the Legion, nor the American Legion Auxiliary, which actually works the poppy program, uses any donations for anything except the cause for which it is intended. There are no administrative fees, and there are no fundraising fees. Every dollar donated goes to help a veteran or his or her family.
Peggy Moon, St. Joseph, Minn.
The writer is commander of the Minnesota American Legion.
Enough blame to go around
As a student, I’m glad to see my peers engage in public discourse at such a high level (“A generation ponders changing times,” May 29). One aspect of one of the arguments — though not unique to this author — concerns me, and that is the fallacy of prematurely criticizing others instead of critiquing the larger social dynamics more at fault.
The author blames older generations’ expensive gifts as the source of selfishness instead of more widespread consumerism and materialism. He then criticizes older generations for “taking the teenage jobs because they didn’t go to college and there isn’t really more they can do.” Such a statement fails to acknowledge the privilege of a college education and the systemic reasons why that has been and remains the case.
Keeping in mind wider social systems acknowledges that we’re all culpable to differing extents for misappropriating our societal values and resources. At the same time, all individuals remain capable of changing what our society values and on what it spends its time, effort and money.
Noah Nieting, Bloomington
NOISE LEVELS IN TAPROOMS
Finally, someone understands!
I feel so redeemed after reading Jay Beech’s commentary (“An open letter to Twin Cities taprooms,” May 24) about the noise level in brewpubs (and many restaurants, for that matter). For years, I thought I was the only person who didn’t enjoy places so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. It’s nice to know there are at least two of us. Jay, if you ever want to open a taproom with a noise level less than a jet engine, count me as a loyal patron!
Sis Hanson, Bloomington
Age 70 looks better than that!
I enjoy reading the book reviews and look forward to reading Kent Haruf’s latest book, “Our Souls at Night” (“Finding new love in life’s twilight,” May 24). I was disappointed in the picture depicting 70-year-olds that accompanied the review. My friends and I do not look like that! We are active, involved, vibrant and stylish. We do not sit around in rocking chairs and wear orthopedic shoes! As our numbers are increasing rapidly, it is important for everyone to see us as we really are.
Mary Ott, Woodbury