I cried as I read the unspeakably beautiful stories in “Lives, on the line” (Special section, Oct. 4) of six courageous Minnesotans struggling, each in his or her own way, with the huge human cost of this nightmarish pandemic. I know I speak for many in gratitude to you — Rick Huggins, Lena Gardner, Mark Arnold, Tammy Wong, Patrick Stith and Jan Malcolm — for your brave vulnerability, for sharing the starkest details of your personal lives, and with complete strangers.

I hope each of you knows how you have lifted us up, hearing your extraordinary yet so deeply human everyday stories. You honor us with your presence. Stay safe, my friends!

Judith Monson, St. Paul

• • •

I have never read an eight-page newspaper article in full, unwilling in the past to commit to a story I wasn’t sure was worth the time. That changed last Sunday. As soon as I read the first sentences of “Lives, on the line,” I was gripped by the unique life stories the reporter had captured and his eloquence in telling them.

“Thank you” is inadequate to express appreciation for the outstanding story. The reporter’s ability to tell the story of each of these individuals was powerful and brought them and their challenges under COVID-19 to life for me.

Clearly this took lots of investigating and conversations with these individuals. He told their story with reverence, compassion and clarity.

Thank you for your excellent reporting.

Ann Christiansen, Golden Valley


Other places managed it. He didn’t.

Thursday’s front page highlighted the dispute between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris over President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic (“Stark differences on pandemic”).

There is a pretty simple and objective measure: COVID-19 deaths per million people as of this week. Johns Hopkins compares nations; the United States, with around 650, falls well behind Germany, with 115, and Canada, with 260 or so.

Even more important is the progress. The graphs of deaths resemble a mountain with a stiff climb up to a peak and then usually a slower, but still steep, downward trend until, at least in the industrialized democracies, bottoming out at a very low level of deaths. In the United States, on the other hand, the decline gets about two-thirds of the way down and levels out with a still-high level of deaths.

Trump’s response is terrible measured not against an idealized standard, but against the general experience of the developed world.

John Sherman, Moorhead, Minn.


I’m voting for good governance

It is greatly troublesome that our state’s voting patterns skew sharply “blue” in the Twin Cities metro and sharply “red” outstate. As a west metro suburban resident, I will be voting “red” because I believe that the Constitution, our founding document that has guided this nation since its inception over 230 years ago, is at serious risk. Within minutes of his Inauguration Day speech, leading Democrats were calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Since that day, we live with the unseemly spectacle of his opponent refusing to concede defeat even now. To make matters worse, Hillary Clinton insists that the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket not acknowledge defeat.

We have also watched congressional investigations prove that it was the Clinton campaign that paid for the so-called “dossier” alleging Trump/Russia collusion. We also know that the basis for the dossier came from someone the FBI believed was a Russian spy. Nevertheless, our FBI at James-Comey levels certified to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that this dossier was legitimate. With that, Comey and company began what I think is an entirely extralegal spying effort against the Trump presidential campaign. This has never happened in our representative republic.

Yet, even now, Biden/Harris refuse to tell American voters whether they support the packing of the Supreme Court to gain a permanent liberal majority; the move to make Puerto Rico a state, helping to ensure Democratic control of the Senate; the end of the Senate filibuster, granting majority rule; and the abolition of the Electoral College, which would effectively concede all electoral power to our largest-population, Democratic states.

How ironic that we have heard nothing from the left but that Trump is an authoritarian fascist. Yet, it is he who has sworn to govern according to our Constitution, while his opponents advocate doing away with some of its most critical standards, for nothing but the sake of power.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

“If I lose Minnesota, I’m never coming back.” So said Donald Trump in Duluth on Sept. 30.

Besides electing someone with integrity, who is honest, who wants to unify rather than divide, who sincerely cares about people, who is not afraid to denounce white supremacists, who recognizes and admits that racial inequities and injustice are real and will work to address them, who truly respects the men and women who serve in the military, who values our public health officials and supports their efforts to fight the coronavirus, who understands the danger that climate change poses, who respects our allies and wants to work with them, who has a plan to ensure that health care is available and affordable to everyone including those with preexisting conditions, who understands that the presidency is about serving the American people and not himself, who honestly respects the rule of law, who values the free press, who appreciates the role of America on the world stage, and who truly respects our democratic principles and institutions, that statement is one more good reason to vote for Joe Biden for president.

Steve cook, Hutchinson, Minn.


More trains, more options

It was encouraging to read Janet Moore’s Sunday story on the need for a second daily passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago (“Proposed 2nd daily train to Chicago gets $32M boost from feds,” Oct. 4).

Readers need to understand, however, that the need for a second train serving the Chicago-Milwaukee-Twin Cities corridor is not driven solely by the scheduling problems of the lone daily eastbound train now serving this route, Amtrak’s Seattle-Chicago Empire Builder, which is often delayed by heavy freight-train traffic on the Northern Plains.

The real reason to launch a second train is to give travelers more choice of departure and arrival times. Currently, Twin Cities people seeking to ride a train to Red Wing, Winona, LaCrosse, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Portage, Columbus, Milwaukee or Chicago have only one choice: Ride the Empire Builder or stay home.

But if a second train runs on a “flipped” schedule with an early-morning departure from Chicago and a late-afternoon departure from St. Paul, travelers go from one choice to four. They can take the Builder in both directions, the new train in both directions, the new train northbound and the Builder southbound, or the new train southbound and the Builder northbound.

The mathematics of frequency are important because rail’s chief competition between the Twin Cities and Chicago is Interstate Hwy. 94, which allows travelers to come and go whenever they please. Illinois legislators recognized this in 2006 when they voted to fund a second frequency on all three of Amtrak’s state-supported routes. The new trains doubled the ridership on each route. Two years ago, North Carolina added a third train between Raleigh and Charlotte. The new train not only established its own ridership but drove an increase in ridership on the other two.

We hear a lot these days about “high-speed trains.” What’s missing from the discussion is “high-frequency trains.” The Minnesota Legislature needs to fund the new Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago train now.

James E. Coston, Chicago

The writer is chairman of Corridor Rail Development.

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