The stunning photo provided by astronaut Kjell Lindgren (“City of Lakes from outer space,” Sept. 23) brings to mind the recent issue here in Minneapolis and that is the renaming of Lake Calhoun. It points out two city lakes in the picture: Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. The answer is right here before our eyes. We call them Lake 1 and Lake 2, just as we have done with our airport terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. And then get on with real business.
William Lundquist, Bloomington
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I think Peter Bell’s position is correct (“Calhoun name focus prompts resignation,” Sept. 23). Let’s put the Civil War behind us. With due respect to the Dakota name Mde Maka Ska, it is hard to remember, hard to pronounce and hard to spell. Lake Calhoun is a popular lake in Hennepin County. If a poll were taken in the county, it is my belief that the majority of respondents would favor keeping the name they like: Lake Calhoun. Personally, I have yet to meet a single person who favors this change. My other thought: When you have an advisory panel of 21 people, they have to find something to do.
Richard Doyle, Edina
How my Italian family’s story is also the Syrian refugees’ story
I have just sent one of my largest donation checks ever. After reading about the Syrian migrant crisis for days with horror and astonishment, today I realized that the crisis belongs to me.
We are a nation of immigrants. Yet, in our comfortable lives, we tend to forget. Oceans separate us from many conflicts. Years separate us from our forebears who arrived with nothing but their wits, the clothes on their backs and hopes for a better life.
Now I remember the Sicilian great-grandmother I almost had. In Sicily, she married a man who went for military service to the Piedmont region near Switzerland. There, he converted to Protestantism. When he returned home, he built a chapel in their hometown outside Palermo. The small congregation suffered antagonism, and the Protestant chapel was soon burned to the ground. Leonardo D’Anna and his wife and child, afraid for their lives, booked passage for the New World.
New York in the 1880s was chock full of immigrants. Leonardo’s wife found many hungry families around her. With that Italian propensity for feeding those in need, she began taking meals to less-fortunate neighbors. Inside Little Sicily or out, she was the lady with steam rising from a pan of stew or a loaf of bread. In a few months, she contracted flu and died. My great-grandfather Leonardo D’Anna sent word to her sister. He would marry her when she arrived in New York. She never returned to Italy. From these beginnings grew one side of my father’s Italian immigrant family, giving to Scranton, Pa., a Protestant minister and local leader, to Washington, D.C., two granddaughters who worked for the Office of the President and the Public Health Service, and to Charleston, S.C., my father, a professor of U.S. history.
Is it any wonder that I finally see the Syrian migrants as relatives under the skin and feel I must help open doors to their survival?
Margo Fortunato Galt, St. Paul
Gee, how nice for those GM execs who got off scot-free
The recent decision by Attorney General Loretta Lynch to not seek indictments against General Motors executives and employees who knew of the lethal ignition switch defect proves once again that corporations are treated better than people (“GM settles ignition switch case,” Sept. 18). It has been reported that as many as 169 people died, and over 1,000 were injured, while GM executives did nothing but hide the defect from the public. These are the worst serial killings in American history.
What else can corporations do that people can’t? Like Monsanto, with the help of its purchased legislators, hide protection in spending bills that allows it to keep selling GMO seed even if it were proven that they pose a health risk. Spend unlimited amounts of “free speech” in the form of “dark money” (not for a specific candidate) without disclosure or shareholder approval. People accuse unions of doing the same thing, but unions actually must disclose all direct and indirect political spending, and in many cases political spending requires the consent of union members.
I think I will incorporate myself.
Andrew Dvorak, Minnetonka
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So a peanut butter manufacturer makes defective peanut butter (“CEO in peanut case gets 28 years,” Sept. 22). They know it is defective. They sell it anyway, and nine people die from eating it.
General Motors installs defective ignition switches in cars. They know the switches are defective. They sell the cars anyway, and as many as 169 people die when the switches malfunction.
This week an executive of that peanut butter factory was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Last week it was announced no one from General Motors would face any charges.
Will someone explain that to me?
Mark Huber, Minneapolis
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I am shocked — shocked! — to learn that a large international corporation, the largest manufacturer of cars in the world, implemented a software “defeat device” to hoodwink the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) into believing that its diesel cars met U.S. pollution standards (“VW will halt sales of suspect diesel cars,” Sept. 21).
Of course, it wasn’t the EPA — a multibillion-dollar federal agency charged with monitoring emissions — that figured out that the cars spewed up to 40 times allowable amounts of pollution. It was a lowly nonprofit, the International Council on Clean Transportation, working with a minor-league state university, West Virginia University, that ratted them out. Are we really surprised?
The CEO of Volkswagen, who stepped down on Wednesday, launched an “independent, external” investigation. Yeah, right. The findings are predictable. A few low- or mid-level engineers will be fired. Executives will deny all knowledge, just as they did in the recent General Motors ignition-switch case that resulted in a $900 million fine. Based on the past record, I am not optimistic that any VW executives will be held criminally responsible, even though their lack of knowledge is not credible. VW shareholders will pay a hefty fine, and VW executives will collect their usual bonuses.
Jeffrey Loesch, Minneapolis
ECONOMY VS. ENVIRONMENT
When it comes to brown vs. green, err on the green side
As an individual who has spent time in developing countries, I prefer to err on the “green side.” Therefore, I cannot vote for — or even take seriously — a politician whose unthinking responses reject any environmental proposals that might “hinder” economic development.
Experience has taught me that “economic opportunity” is too often an argument for the financial gains of a few greedy “job creators” rather than the amelioration of poverty and human misery. Yet I know intuitively, as the pope declares and Brian Konkol succinctly states, “[that] the brown agenda (economics) and the green agenda (ecology) are connected.”
As Konkol argues (“An Olive Agenda for America,” Sept. 23), an “Olive Agenda” that includes and integrates economics and ecology could transcend both, but it requires that we keep humankind as our ultimate concern whether from a theistic or humanistic perspective.
God bless the pope, our elected leaders and the voters. May our coming conversations and actions keep all people — and especially the poor, marginalized, oppressed and terrorized — at the center.
Jay Lindgren, Minneapolis