On Sept. 21, WCCO-TV broadcast a story about a 13-year-old Minnesota girl who lost her left arm above the elbow in a farm accident. On Sept. 17, the Star Tribune had reported on the same young girl, who in June 2013, when she was 11, had been picking up rocks from a family field but hit loose gravel on the drive back and flipped her weighted-down ATV. She subsequently had a new type of bionic prosthesis placed on her left arm, which has made a big difference in her life.

On Sept. 17, the Star Tribune also reported that a 6-year-old Minnesota girl had died after a fall from an ATV her mother was driving on private land.

To address increasing childhood injuries, maimings and deaths occurring with children and ATV use, the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOP) issued formal policies recommending that children under 16 not be allowed to drive four-wheeled ATVs under any circumstances. The APP further recommended prohibiting passengers from riding on ATVs. The federal government mandated that children younger than 16 should not ride on adult-sized ATVs. Minnesota defied this federal standard and passed a law that allows children as young as 12 to ride adult ATVs. Adult ATVs carry labels that say never operate this ATV if you are under age 16.

Adoption and adherence to these clear and simple AAP and AAOS safety policy guidelines by parents would more than likely result in the ultimate goal of achieving the highest level of ATV safety and zero harm for their children.

Dr. Carl E. Burkland, New Prague

The writer is a retired family physician.


Pope’s message is a good one — and there’s a group for that

The front-page headline covering Pope Francis’ address to the nation and Congress (“ ‘We must move forward together,’ ” Sept. 25) is precisely the message that No Labels, a nonpartisan group formed in Washington, D.C., five years ago, is determined to accomplish. No Labels is promoting a national strategic agenda that embraces problem-solving by reaching across the aisle and putting people before party. Our “stop fighting and start fixing” approach can be heard in almost every quote from His Holiness.

We do not have to agree on all the issues, but we must have an open dialogue based on the facts, and we must put the common good first. We must remind our legislators, in the pope’s words, that “legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this [lawmakers] have been invited, called and convened by those who elected [them]. … The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization.” Pitting one party or person against the other is “simplistic reductionism which sees only good and evil.”

Categorizing Pope Francis as conservative or liberal is indeed the very thinking that is tearing us apart (“A valuable lesson: how to disagree,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 25). The name “No Labels” means no categorizing as left or right.

If you feel compelled to take the action needed to keep the pope’s message alive after the glow of his presence fades, investigate nolabels.org. We have an actual plan that uses the “process” of problem-solving as its core. We also have 60 problem-solvers from both sides of the aisle committed to working on our national agenda together. Our four-point agenda can be found on the website, along with access to your representatives (simply input your ZIP code).

Let’s do this!

Linda Peterson, Plymouth

The writer is co-chair of No Labels Minnesota.



Here’s my compensation plan; it would serve many purposes

I bought my clean-diesel Volkswagen Sportwagen TDI in 2009. We were so excited and immediately fell in love with the car. We actually drove it preferentially over our Mini Cooper because it was better for the environment! It now has 100,000 miles on it. One hundred thousand heavily polluting miles. All because some bright spark at Volkswagen thought that this EPA stuff is all just government silliness and we should find a way to get around it.

Yes, all the angry anti-Environmental-Protection-Agency rhetoric fueled the thinking that led to several Volkswagen regulators signing off on this decision. Ask your average representative in Congress if he or she thinks the EPA should regulate pollutants. After 20 minutes of blather, you’ll realize that the answer is “no.” Unfortunately, most of those who buy Volkswagens don’t think this way; they want a clean country and aren’t voting for that congressperson.

Here is what I think Volkswagen can do to save face: Get everyone who owns a “clean diesel” the same number of miles that they’ve put on their car in a zero-emissions format. If you had a Volkswagen Golf TDI with 70,000 miles on it, Volkswagen will give you 70,000 miles in an eGolf. This way, owners are — as best as possible — undoing the damage that they unwittingly helped create.

Unfortunately, for some, an eGolf won’t be an appropriate replacement — my Jetta has space for the kids’ hockey equipment. I use it for long road trips. Such people should be credited with the eGolf mile-dollars to buy a nonpolluting vehicle that meets their need if possible.

Let’s look at the math: 500,000 cars times $20,000 per replacement equals $10 billion. That sounds like a pretty good punishment. I would think that the U.S. government wouldn’t need to ask for much more compensation: The pollution is being undone; the financial punishment is adequately harsh; the consumer feels remedied.

This plan also allows Volkswagen to keep hold of as many as possible of its customers and try to make things right over the long haul. It is better than a huge, expensive legal fight or a giant payout to government that starts the tailspin toward demise of the brand in the U.S. It is better than “fixing” these valueless cars with an $8,000 urea-injection system that will continue to be a living testament to their deceit, will not undo the damage and will certainly require an accompanying gigantic fine from the EPA, as well as private lawsuits.

Volkswagen, think hard and take your pick. I’d like mine silver.

Rumi Faizer, Little Canada



A prospective future leader hails right here from your home state

I moved to Florida too soon! I just read that 12-year-old Yusuf Dayur of Eden Prairie has announced, in a video, that he will be the first Muslim president of the United States.

If only I had known, I would have not have moved from Edina. Oh, wait — I can still campaign for Yusuf while living in Florida! Sign me up. I’ll be more than happy to start making phone calls.

Marsha Bard, West Palm Beach, Fla.



This is just to say …

I was going to write a letter criticizing Donald Trump, but I thought he might sue me. So I didn’t.

Mark Hochhauser, Golden Valley