On May 4, I celebrated the 70th anniversary of my liberation by American solders from the Gunskirchen concentration camp. I consider them my second parents.

On May 5, when I read in the Star Tribune that Israeli soldiers had fired indiscriminately on Palestinian civilians out of boredom during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, I felt great sorrow.

A few days ago, the sirens sounded in Israel on the memorial day of the Holocaust. I remember that as I walked in the Death March through the Austrian mountains one day, an Austrian woman threw an apple to us. She was shot and killed.

If there’s anything at all we can learn from the Holocaust, it is to remain humane even in inhumane circumstances.

Robert O. Fisch, Minneapolis

TRADE DEALS

How the TPP could adversely affect health care efforts

I urge the Star Tribune Editorial Board to reconsider its support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“Congress should pass ‘fast track’ on trade,” April 25), as it is much more than a trade pact. The current provisions in the TPP would raise the prices of prescription drugs and reduce access to lifesaving medicines around the world. While the Editorial Board fears that “not passing fast-track could mean passing on increased global trade with the 95 percent of consumers living in other countries,” as a future physician (I graduate from the University of Minnesota on Friday), I fear that if the TPP’s provisions on intellectual property (IP) are passed, my patients will not be able to afford basic health care.

New IP mechanisms proposed in the TPP, such as patent “evergreening” or extension of a patent life beyond the original 20-year term, allow unnecessarily high prices for name-brand medications for longer terms. Moreover, these patent-term extensions are not granted on grounds of efficacy, increasing prices without increased public benefit. Generic competition is the only proven method to reduce pharmaceutical prices, as exemplified by the reduction in price of first-line HIV anti-retrovirals 99 percent over the past 15 years. The TPP’s long-term IP protections will postpone the introduction of generic drugs to the market, at the cost of lives.

Student activists from the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) around the world are rallying to urge negotiators to acknowledge and incorporate the lessons learned from the global fight to provide treatment for HIV/AIDS to reject the current TPP and commit to sensible, balanced agreements that enable access to affordable medicines for all. We do not want a “trade” agreement that Doctors Without Borders called “the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries.”

Theodore Fagrelius, St. Paul

 

BUFFER STRIPS

If land is taken, which is what this is, payment is in order

When my father was farming in southwestern Minnesota, land was needed by the state to create a highway intersection. Later when the local airport planned a runway extension, land was required. In both cases, my father was paid for this at market prices.

Will landowners be paid for the land that under a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton would be taken by the state for buffer strips around streams, rivers and ditches? If not, they should be, just as they are paid for land taken for roads and airports.

Brian K. Toren, Prior Lake

 

OBESITY AND THE MILITARY

Some may think cutting soldiers slack on fitness is fine; it’s not

When recruits start a military career, one of the first instructions is that they are soldiers first. Whatever military careers they’ve chosen come second.

I am glad that a May 4 writer who served in Vietnam felt secure enough in his job that he and his troops didn’t need physical fitness (“Fitness is overstated as a need for a well-functioning military,” responding to “Generals: Suck in the gut, Minnesota,” May 1). My troops and I also served in support roles, while in Iraq. When I was wounded in a mortar attack, I was fortunate enough to have fellow troopers who were able to carry me several hundred meters while wearing body armor and carrying weapons. I’m also sure that they appreciated the fact that they didn’t have to carry somebody who was 40 pounds overweight.

The military has standards for a reason.

Chad M. Hayes, Albert Lea, Minn.