There has been a lot of renewed talk about torture and waterboarding. Waterboarding, in my opinion, is not torture; it is a ruse and a trick. This is how it works: The subject is strapped to a board near a pool of water. The person’s head is covered with a towel to confuse orientation, and the table is tipped so that the lungs are higher than the head. The subject is not aware of the tipping. This ensures that water cannot get into the lungs and the person cannot drown. Water is poured on the forehead then gradually over the nose and mouth. The subject thinks he or she is about to be drowned, but only the discomfort of coughs and gasping occurs. I have been waterboarded as part of survival training in the Army. It is very scary but not deadly. It seems to me that this is the most humane way possible to get information from terrorists who murdered several thousand innocent people on 9 /11.

William Howard, Minneapolis


Ideological accommodations at U Medical School are alarming

I am dismayed at the reaction of University of Minnesota Medical School Dean Dr. Jakub Tolar to the Legislature’s appointment of Randy Simonson to the Board of Regents (“Abortion factors into regent pick,” May 11). The appointment was a reaction to a new medical school fellowship with the Reproductive Health Access Project, a training opportunity sorely needed to ensure access to reproductive health care. According to the article, Tolar “said in a statement that the school pulled the position, which would have involved instruction in performing abortions. The U ‘will examine the value of this training in the context of our mission along with the values of the community.’ ”

To what values is Tolar referring? Does the medical school not value reproductive health? Abortion is a legal medical procedure in the U.S., and women deserve trained physicians who can provide it when needed. Does the Medical School no longer value training its future doctors in all aspects of health care? Will politics now determine what is taught? Perhaps next the university will abandon teaching climate science or evolution because some take a dim view of these disciplines.

Shame on Dr. Tolar and the U. This is not the way to lead. Those who support reproductive freedom, who are still the overwhelming majority in this state and country, should send a message that this action is unacceptable.

Sandi Sherman, Minneapolis


Three lessons I learned from living through the Paris uprising

The two May 9 commentaries about the events of 1968 (“A Minnesotan in Paris during the uprising” and “The year that tumbled revolutionary communism”) brought back vivid memories of that heady, unsettling time when everything and anything seemed possible, and of the profound life lessons I learned then.

As a student in Paris, living a block from the Sorbonne (the epicenter of the student uprising), I saw history being made. I had already experienced the deeply liberating education of living in a different culture, embracing the gift of “seeing oneself as others see us,” and attempting to “walk in another’s shoes” (both of which are as good a guide to personal and political maturity as any I know). But, sadly, I had also seen how some of my compatriots, instead of experiencing differences as a learning opportunity, merely confirmed their opinion that everything American was better and we had nothing to learn from anyone. (The roots of “America First” run deep.)

A second lesson came when the revolutionaries occupying the Sorbonne had to temporarily call a truce so that the authorities could remove the trash, which was becoming a health hazard. Idealism and ideology won’t necessarily take care of the garbage: It takes competence, management skills and effective bureaucracies to do that; as well as most of the other tasks citizens expect of their government! (And yet, dangerously, we elect so many politicians because of their sloganeering skill rather than their ability and willingness to solve problems.)

And a third powerful lesson was that amid all the violence and brutality, I heard no gunshots in France (subsequent reporting indicated that very few were fired by anyone during the whole uprising and there were few deaths). Here at home it would have been a bloodbath. Gun culture matters! And our American propensity to shoot one another continues to baffle and appall.

George Muellner, Plymouth


This is your chance to change our course; begin preparing now

The increasing frequency of President Donald Trump’s mad, meretricious and unconsidered acts is bringing our flawed (human) but precious and hitherto highly regarded nation into international disgrace and peril.

Our best chance to restore civility and reason to our national life is through the representatives we elect. Unless we are already registered voters, we should plan to apply for voter registration soon. Registration is required of persons who have moved, have had a name change or have not voted for four consecutive years.

Minnesota’s primary election will take place on Aug. 14, with completed registration applications due in the Secretary of State’s office (60 Empire Drive, Suite 100, St. Paul 55103) by July 24. The general election will take place on Nov. 6, with completed registration applications due in that office by Oct. 16. Requests for voter registration applications can be made online at In Minneapolis, application for absentee ballots should be made as soon as possible by contacting the City of Minneapolis, 350 South 5th St., Room 201, Minneapolis 55415 or online at

Let’s get civility, moderation and wisdom back in our public life. We should vote as if the future of our country depends on it — it does!

Nancy B. Miller, Minneapolis


The variety of it all

The photograph of a sloth at the Como Zoo (“Party animals,” Variety, May 8) was just so special and says great things about the Star Tribune’s focus on not just the news of the day, but what we are all about.

Barry Bonoff, Minnetonka