The U.S. military has committed an atrocity, killing a few dozen doctors, support staff and patients and destroying a hospital (“Airstrike on Afghan hospital stirs fury,” Oct. 4, and “Charity pulls out of Kunduz after attack,” Oct. 5). Whatever the excuse offered and responsibility assigned, we owe Doctors Without Borders what I can only call reparations. Here’s my suggestion: The U.S. government should cover the living costs of the families affected by this disaster as long as they need support. It should rebuild the facility and equip it with state-of-the-art equipment. It should pay the operating expenses of the facility for a significant time period. None of this will begin to pay the real cost of this disaster, but at least it’s assuming responsibility for destroying the only trauma center in northern Afghanistan. That is at least an effort to ease both the pain and the shame.
John F. Hetterick, Plymouth
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Isn’t it wonderful that we have rules about war? So when a general declares (in the bold passive voice) that “[a] hospital was mistakenly struck,” we can know that a rule was broken (“General thinks Afghanistan strike broke rules,” Oct. 7,” and “Tough questions on Afghan policy,” Oct. 8). Like when a wedding party is bombed. Or when the wrong house is targeted. Our tax dollars at work.
Or maybe no “rules of engagement” were violated: everyone did what they were supposed to do, and the innocent adults and children who died were victims because they happened to be where they were. “Collateral damage.” Oops, their bad.
We need to remember these things when the drumbeat toward another war begins to sound. That drumbeat seems almost constant these days. But we need to remember that civilian casualties in modern warfare are generally at least as high as combatant casualties. We need to remember the soldiers who come home physically maimed or mentally wounded, or who don’t come home at all. We need to remember the refugees streaming across borders. We need to remember the children in war zones who lose parents, lose limbs, lose their childhood.
The next time you hear a politician or a pundit say that America shouldn’t “back down” or should “keep all options on the table” regarding some conflict, think about what he or she is really saying. And remember all that is truly at stake.
Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis
GUNS AND VIOLENCE
Seriously? We want to punish folks for what they ‘might’ do?
I have owned anywhere between one and 20 guns at a time for over 50 years and have never even pointed one at a human much less shot anyone (“Oregon spurs fresh gun law debate,” Oct. 8).
Having said that, there are folks out there who would like to take them from me simply because I “might” shoot someone in the future. If we are going to go by that reasoning, a police officer should write me a ticket because I “might” speed tomorrow. Who knows? I “might” park in a handicap spot. I “might” not wear my seat belt. I should be arrested because I “might” punch my neighbor in the nose. I “might” shoplift a DVD from Shopko.
If we are to punish honest, law-abiding citizens for what they might do in the future, we will need to increase our police force tenfold.
David H. Colburn, Hayfield, Minn.
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Three letter writers on Oct. 8 (“Readers Write”) made the case that changes to flight security procedures have kept us safe from a terrorist attack since 9/11. We are a captive audience when we fly, so we tolerate the privacy invasion that many of these procedures entail. Hopefully these letter writers will agree that the measures they outlined can be applied to the gun control discussion in general. Enhanced and broader background checks seem appealing, but by themselves are little more than an emotional salve.
There are two issues (by no means exhaustive) that must be part of any broad-based discussion:
1) Enhanced enforcement of the “straw purchaser”law. Anyone caught buying a firearm under false pretenses or receiving the same firearm from the purchaser should be prosecuted — no exceptions. Mandatory sentences must be enforced.
2) Do away with “gun-free zones.” Any person with enough evil intent to commit mass murder is expecting to die — either by their own hand or at the hand of law enforcement officers. The only thing they fear is being taken out before accomplishing their sick goal of taking a number of innocent victims with them. The security guard at the college in Oregon was armed — with a can of Mace. How well would he have fared in a face-to-face confrontation with the killer?
People of all persuasions share the same goal of decreasing gun violence. We must spend as much energy understanding the means of thwarting evil intent as we do in preaching about background checks for responsible gun owners.
Gary Dreyer, Bloomington
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The sparked debates on gun control vs. mental illness do not address what were to happen if the government restricted or banned gun use completely (“It’s our gun culture that’s mentally ill,” Oct 6). If one was fixated on ending the lives of a large number of people, one would find a way to do it. I would like to imagine a gun-free society, but gun-free does not mean violence-free.
Connor Lynch, Savage
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I notice that several readers took exception to the analogy of aircraft compared with firearms published in a previous edition (“Readers Write, Oct. 7 and Oct. 8). I propose we look at the carnage wrought by drunken drivers on our highways. Should we ban automobiles due to the crimes committed by drunken drivers, and I might add inattentive drivers on their smartphones? Also, how is enforcement going as far as taking car keys out of the hands of drunken drivers? Ever read about drivers with four or five prior DWI’s on their record being charged with vehicular homicide? I have. It appears that repeat drunken drivers have been able to get their hands on car keys with relative ease, despite the massive law enforcement and judicial efforts made to prevent such activity. So now you’d like to take firearms out of the hands of whom? And enforce that action how and at what cost?
James Winberg, Little Canada
‘High-maintenance’ is more like risky business
I agree to disagree with Kara Nesvig on her Stylepoints article on being “high-maintenance” (“Stylepoints: You say ‘high-maintenance like that’s a bad thing,” Variety, Oct. 7). I believe that following her suggestions would be “high risk.” She may also need to take Psychology 101 all over again, as I believe it addresses the concept of self-esteem.
Let’s set that aside and speak to the suggested timesavers.
First, consider the acrylic overcoat and paint on nails, both of which can cause nail fungus to grow under the natural nail and are known to be toxic to the lungs. Ever wonder why the manicurist wears a facemask?
Next, we are introduced to eyelash extensions. How many ophthalmologists recommend these along with their eye exams, as it would surely promote job security? However, they get enough business from the use of mascara alone.
Then we have the spray-on tans without any mention of the nano-particulates that are again breathed into the lungs or the synthetic chemicals that the skin absorbs. Are there any long-term side effects associated with this suggestion, such as early drying and aging of the skin or potential skin cancers?
Finally, we have the hair blowouts and waxing. Even though we agree to disagree, I can understand why her longest relationship is with waxing.
She noted that she is an average Minnesota blonde, but I think she fits better in Los Angeles.
Kathleen Balaban, Champlin