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An editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reprinted in the Star Tribune Nov. 21, asks why America is returning to what is a "large cold rock in space." Why indeed?

NASA's administrator, Bill Nelson, answers in a PBS NewsHour segment: "We do not have the capability of going to Mars. What we're going to learn living and working on the moon will help us."

What we already know about both the moon and Mars is that their atmospheres do not support life as we know it. Oxygen on the moon is buried in its rocky surface, and the concentration of oxygen in the Mars atmosphere is 0.16%.

The projected total cost of the Artemis project through a planned 2025 moon landing is $93 billion, according to PBS NewsHour. The first phase has taken twice as long as projected, with vast cost overruns. Will an alliance with SpaceX help to reduce costs? Probably, but it belies the central question.

Isn't the time overdue for Congress to ask: "Is Artemis basically a self-preservation project for NASA?"

John F. Hick, St. Paul

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The editorial gleefully discusses the Artemis project, which will return astronauts to the moon and eventually to Mars. It notes the technological advancements that have resulted from the space program. Yes.

However, the Artemis project will cost nearly $100 billion. When we consider what other countries are spending on their own projects (such as China's building a space station and sending a crew to the moon), the expense is truly mind-boggling.

Wouldn't it be a better use of the funds to address the immediate crisis of climate change?

Nic Baker, Roseville

ABORTION

One land, one law

"New frontiers on abortion" (front page, Nov. 20) describes what, in some sense, sounds like a minor inconvenience for the Red River Women's Clinic, formerly of Fargo but now relocated to Moorhead, due to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. But this is like the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic, or the slight cough of someone getting off a trans-Pacific flight in early 2020 — except that this problem portends far worse disaster than a sunk ship or a pandemic.

The Supreme Court's irresponsible decision, combined with the ongoing irresponsibility of our dysfunctional Congress, is an iceberg with the potential to destroy the United States. Not a mere ship named after our nation — our nation!

There have always been minor differences in the laws from one state to the next. When I was a kid you couldn't purchase margarine in Minnesota. Such differences, like North Dakotans crossing the Red River for a medical appointment, create inconvenience. But the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade puts us on a path to where a woman from Fargo, visiting Moorhead for a procedure legal in Moorhead, could be charged with a felony upon

her return to Fargo. Not only that, but employees from the now-in-Moorhead clinic could be arrested and charged with felonies the next time they shop or dine at the West Acres Mall. Not a reasonable scenario — but an entirely plausible one.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham recently floated a proposed national abortion policy allowing abortion prior to 15 weeks, but prohibiting abortion after to 15 weeks — with certain exceptions. Graham's proposal died a quick death, shot down by extremists on both ends of the abortion debate. I don't often agree with Graham. I'm suspicious that his mid-September proposal was more an effort to rescue the Republican Party's chances in the midterms than to preserve the nation, and I am not suggesting that his proposal draws the line at the right place, or makes the right exceptions.

Yet a national abortion policy is exactly what we need. No compromise will ever satisfy abortion extremists on either end, but the alternative is chaos — plausibly leading to the breakup, peacefully or not, of the "United" States. Everyone interested in preserving our nation should write their senators and congressional representative to demand a national abortion policy.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis

INTERNET INEQUITY

How to frame the problem

The lead article in the Nov. 20 Minnesota section — "One redlined, now victims of internet inequity," which suggests that people in Black neighborhoods are intentionally overcharged for internet access — is likely to make it harder to remedy the problem, not easier.

The basic economic fact is that it is more expensive (per megabyte) to provide internet service to a poor or rural neighborhood than to a rich, urban one. This is because the cost of laying the cable or optical fiber to bring the signal to the neighborhood depends only weakly on the total amount of bandwidth provided.

In a rich neighborhood with a high density of subscribers, the cost per subscriber or per megabyte is lower than in an area with a low density of subscribers.

I believe it's a good idea for people in those rich neighborhoods to subsidize basic internet service to poor neighborhoods, because it promotes socioeconomic mobility by making education and connectedness more available to all. I think most people in those rich neighborhoods would agree and would be willing to pay for such a subsidy through their internet bills if advocates explained it this way.

If advocates base their arguments on demonizing service providers through the "redlining" comparison, which ignores the basic economics, it will be a lot harder to sell.

Pieter Visscher, Falcon Heights

The writer is a retired physics professor.

WHISKERS

Important to the dog

The Nov. 20 Minnesota section included a photo of Birdy, a smooth collie, being readied for the All Breed Dog Show at Canterbury Park Expo Center ("Going for a more fetching look"). The picture showed a scissors-wielding woman trimming off the snout whiskers of this hapless dog in preparation for the show.

Anyone who cares about dogs would understand the importance of a dog's whiskers. Snout whiskers are vital for communicating information to a dog's nervous system, giving it the ability to sense its environment, determine distances, as well as helping it find food and water. They're also one of the ways a dog is able to display emotions. Whiskers are essential for a canine's well-being and removing them causes tremendous stress to the animal. Please do not cut any whiskers from your dog's snout, eyes or chin! The Minneapolis Kennel Club would do well to immediately end this practice, as it's simply another form of animal cruelty.

Vicki Sinha, Eden Prairie