U.S. aid to Palestinian Authority is crucial

Funding from the United States allows our military to train Palestinian Authority security forces which, in Israel's estimation, helped make last year Israel's most terror-free year in its history. Cutting aid and cooperation, as Republicans in Congress have proposed, would strain the resources and undermine the moderate government of the Palestinian Authority.

Because a viable and stable Palestinian government is essential to achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel, Congress must continue funding programs that strengthen institution- and state-building efforts in the West Bank, grow the Palestinian economy, and meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people. The math on this is simple: American influence with the PA buys Israel security and stability, and the chance to one day realize a two-state solution.


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One pilot's error leads to annoyance for many

A front-page story in the Star Tribune answered a key question for those who live south Minneapolis ("FAA shift adds to the noise near MSP," Sept. 22). We have more noise now because a year ago one pilot suffered from incompetence and forgot to turn his airplane when he should have. Because of this, the FAA quietly snuck in a change to its flight patterns over the winter and has ever since been ducking every opportunity to tell the public the truth.

I'd like to know who that pilot is who has singlehandedly changed the quality of life so drastically for thousands of us in south Minneapolis. I'd also like to know if any other solutions were considered that didn't involve increasing the noise over the 'hood? And if there were other solutions, what considerations were looked at that ended up sending all these low flights overhead? Finally, did the quality of life in south Minneapolis ever enter into the discussion?


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Each party seeks to rig the results

In his commentary "How Republicans are rigging the next election" (Sept. 22), Harold Meyerson described the latest method of reconfiguring the electoral process for president. I have to admit that the plan he opposes is one I find interesting. If it were done here in Minnesota, where the elections are often quite close, we would have a 5-5 Electoral College tie just about every time. I think that would be more democratic than winner-take-all.

He also describes a plan that would give all electoral votes to a candidate who may not actually win the popular vote in a state but does so nationally. He is apparently a proponent of this "Democratic" idea that was presented by a Republican in a Republican-controlled Legislature in Minnesota this year. This idea is an open attack on the Constitution. It attempts to change a provision without going through the amendment process.

One point he seems to have missed is that the Constitution has no reference to the president being elected by a popular vote of the citizens. The president is not a representative of the people, but rather of the group of states. His main job is supposed to be a diplomatic one, representing the interests of states to the world. They are not supposed to have their own diplomatic relations with other countries.

In the end, both parties support both electoral reform ideas when it benefits their candidates, and both oppose them when it hurts their candidates. How about we dust off the old Constitution and agree to uphold it?


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Now, an example of the good work being done

With all of the recent partisan "noise" in our nation's capital, it is easy to overlook the important and honestly good legislative work that continues to be done there. On July 12, Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., was one of the leaders of a totally bipartisan group that introduced the Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act. The bills already have gained 32 bipartisan cosponsors, including Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a lethal lung disease that takes the life of a U.S. citizen every 13 minutes -- more than 40,000 annually (roughly the same number as breast cancer). There is no FDA-approved treatment or cure. More than 200,000 Americans suffer from PF, and the incidence and prevalence of the disease is up more than 150 percent since 2001.

The legislation will give researchers additional tools (through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control) to determine the cause of PF and to help with the discovery of an effective treatment. Today, PF costs the health care economy between $4.3 and $6.7 billion annually.

Paulsen and his Democratic and Republican colleagues deserve to be recognized and indeed praised for putting aside partisan differences and working cooperatively (and legislatively) to address a major public health care issue. This group should be praised for their skill, compassion and willingness to tackle a tough issue in an equally tough political climate. Their leadership will literally save lives as it helps to address the long-term deficit. Hopefully, the rest of the Minnesota congressional delegation will join Paulsen's effort soon.

PAUL AND Melissa Fogelberg, Orono