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I'm disappointed in Katrina vanden Heuvel's Washington Post commentary on Ukraine ("It's time to give diplomacy a chance," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 20). So disappointed that I think T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men" was written about such thinkers. I'm not someone who is fond of war. This, however, is self-defense — if not downright self-preservation. Heuvel's analysis is indeed hollow. It's reminiscent of "peace at all costs" (though she does talk about the cost of rebuilding, as if that justifies Ukraine ceding yet more territory to Russia). It's convenient that discussion of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 was not included — the lack of a strong response probably emboldened Russians to continue onward now.

It's clear that without a strong response from the West and from Ukraine itself, Ukraine would continue to lose territory. Heuvel's analysis is that giving up bizarrely equates diplomacy and surrender. Really? Have you not learned anything yet? Interesting that she also states that Ukraine is short on soldiers, yet Nicholas Kristof states in his commentary the same day that there are long waiting lists for volunteers eager to serve ("Ukraine's finest hour should keep U.S. steadfast"). So, who's right? I tend to believe the person who went there. Add to that the Russian torture, rapes and murder of civilians. Fight for your lives, Ukrainians! If you follow Heuvel's advice, your world will end not with a bang but with a whimper. And Russia will wait for the world to forget again and start anew.

The hollow, stuffed individuals encouraging support to end will not see "death's other Kingdom," per the poem; they'll be gathered on the edge of "the tumid river."

Susan Bloyer, St. Louis Park


Once and always a U hospital

News of renewed merger talks between Fairview Health Services and Sanford Health brought back a couple vivid memories from 25 years ago ("AG seeking input on proposed Sanford-Fairview health merger," Nov. 23). I was working at the University of Minnesota Medical Center when the hospital was sold to Fairview. The main entrance sign was covered with a temporary tarp printed with the new name: Fairview University Medical Center (FUMC). One of my colleagues dryly commented, "They can change the name and put a 'baggie' over the sign, but we'll still be the university hospital." We knew the good care we were giving and the culture at the U would remain unchanged no matter who owned the hospital.

Most of us were none too happy with what we considered a hostile takeover of our beloved hospital, so we took every opportunity to poke at Fairview. They made it way too easy for us to make fun of the new name. Fairview quickly dispatched an email asking employees to refrain from calling the hospital "The F-U."

If the current merger talks are successful, Sanford will hopefully recognize that the heart of the hospital is still the U. Oh, and avoid a naming gaffe. "The S-U," anyone?

Steve Millikan, Minneapolis


I agree with the opinion piece about the need for our attorney general to get involved in the proposed changes with the university and UCare, and a merger between Sanford and Fairview ("Ground shifts under consumers' feet," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 28). The possibility of our university's medical center being moved out of our control for the benefit of Sanford, a South Dakota company, plus the Minnesotans dependent on UCare insurance plans getting shortchanged, is downright abhorrent. Corporate greed never sleeps, and Minnesota's attorney general should defend us against this impending catastrophe.

Diane J. Peterson, St. Paul


Let outside nurses care for you

As a registered nurse, educated and trained in Minnesota, I would like to bring attention to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and how it could be beneficial to Minnesotans.

The COVID pandemic disrupted health care, and the effects will be felt for years. One of the most egregious results is in staffing. There are over 1,800 vacant nursing positions for hospitals and health systems alone. This does not include long-term care facilities and other health providers, which means the vacancies are much higher.

Many other states in our nation participate in the Nursing Licensure Compact: an agreement that allows for one state compact nursing license, allowing the nurse to provide care in any of the compact states.

The Minnesota Nursing Association (MNA), the union representing less than 20% of all nurses statewide, is against the Nurse Licensure Compact. The MNA states that allowing compact licensed nurses in Minnesota will put patients at risk by allowing nurses from states with lower nursing standards to provide care in our state. In addition, the MNA considers the NLC to be a union-busting tactic allowing hospital systems to utilize out-of-state workers during a strike (something the hospitals are already doing, with nurses who have applied for a Minnesota nursing license by endorsement). This means that each nurse from out of state that wishes to work in Minnesota must pay for a Minnesota nursing license.

Compact nurses can help fill the gaps in care as we deal with the fallout from the pandemic. Historically, health care has adapted as a result of various crises. (During World War II, nursing and medical education were shortened. The conflict in Vietnam saw the advent of the physician assistant, a profession created to fill the gap with Navy medics).

The main question is, does utilizing compact nurses cause as much of a "danger" as the current low staffing situation?

Jennifer Johnson, Coon Rapids


Where is the local support?

The Star Tribune reported on Nov. 24 that Minneapolis Public Schools has enrolled fewer than 28,000 students for the current school year ("Enrollment continues to decline in Mpls."). This number represents a loss of about 1,500 students from 2021 and a significant continuation of losses. As an example, the student enrollment in 2001-2002 was over 46,000.

In my opinion very little has been effectively done to reverse the steep decline of enrollment. Years ago, the district was willing to partner with corporations and secure loaned executives to help with identified needs.

What is obvious to me is that a major marketing effort is needed to not only reverse the steep decline in student enrollment but to enroll many of the approximately 20,000 students who reside in Minneapolis but do not attend Minneapolis Public Schools.

Minneapolis area corporations benefit from effective public schools. A highly educated and available workforce is needed as a minimal prerequisite for corporations to either relocate to an area or continue to stay in an area. In the past these corporations were willing to partner with the Minneapolis Public Schools to assure excellence.

I highly recommend that Minneapolis Public Schools seek strategic marketing planning and implementation approaches with assistance from metropolitan-based corporations. I'm also sure that local universities would also be more than willing to provide assistance in this area of significant need.

It is not enough to try to decrease expenses to match decreased enrollment. The correct approach is to increase income by increasing enrollment. Minneapolis Public Schools can and should regain the designation of an urban school district that works.

Mitchell Trockman, Golden Valley

The writer is retired associate superintendent and interim superintendent, Minneapolis Public Schools.