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The Star Tribune editorial relative to our Pollution Control Agency personnel withholding vital information relative to the harm that could be inflicted on the public is good as far as it goes (“Hearing is a must on PolyMet permit,” June 23). Yes, public hearings and a legislative audit are long overdue. But it is essential that our leaders tell us why there has been no health assessment even though mercury and arsenic will penetrate areas that provide drinking water to tribes and the people of Duluth. We are headed for another Flint.

Further, the financial package designed to compensate Minnesotans from environmental damage is guaranteed by PolyMet Corp., which has more liabilities than assets and is little more than a shell. PolyMet is a growing scandal and Gov. Tim Walz must immediately place on hold the PolyMet permit until all these matters are properly resolved.

Tom Berkelman, Duluth, and ARNE CARLSON, Minneapolis

Berkelman was a DFL member of the Minnesota House from 1977 to 1983. Carlson was a Republican governor from 1991 to 1999.


The Rorschach test that is the coverage of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar

I have recently been deeply impressed by Star Tribune investigative reporting on such subjects as elder abuse, rape prosecution and solitary confinement. The June 23 article “Omar’s past haunts her present,” however, filled me with disgust.

The article echoes the scandals pushed by right-wing hate blogs: questions about her marital history (“possibly to her own brother”), a tax discrepancy she has “legally corrected” but left the newspaper strangely unsatisfied. The article shouts about questions that “nevertheless persisted over the years,” yet those persist mostly in your own repetition of hate blogs from the Republican fringes. It finds photographic evidence that Omar’s first husband was not a sibling and an expert who claims that such immigration fraud is “nearly unheard of” and “easily uncovered.” It concedes such fraud would have provided no benefit to Omar or to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. It raises wild accusations from Power Line, PJ Media and Alpha News, then concludes with variations of “we were not able to verify.”

So why repeat these things for 87 column inches? Surely, those of you at the Star Tribune, you are better journalists than this.

Charles Underwood, Minneapolis

• • •

Brilliant front-page story on Omar. Too bad it’s several years too late.

Tom Shelton, New Brighton

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The Star Tribune article clearly lays out the deceitful acts of Omar, and she should be held accountable for them. My greater concern is with the DFL Party and its handling — or non-handling — of the matter.

It is certainly interesting that the DFL has not uttered one word about the allegations against its candidate. Should it have done a background check on their candidate? Yes. Did it? If not, it is a major failing. If it did check her background and ignored her actions, it is much worse.

How can the DFL believe anything she says or support anything she does? Has it even looked into the allegations of wrongdoing by Omar? If not, why not? Will it support her in the next election?

Come on, DFL — what do you say?

William Halling, Edina

• • •

The reporters should be ashamed of their article about Omar’s marital history. There is no credible evidence that she married her brother. None. This is nothing more than the continuation of the racist birtherism President Barack Obama had to put up with. Stop reporting right-wing conspiracy theories as if they’re valid questions to ask, and leave Omar alone.

Irene Moskowitz, Minneapolis


Here’s how I interpret that book excerpt and natural law

A couple of things surprised me about a June 23 letter about the June 16 excerpt from “The Conservative Sensibility,” a new book by Washington Post columnist George F. Will.

One, the writer stated that he saw racism when Will wrote “ ‘inequalities of wealth … rising from exceptional natural aptitudes” and their “genetic bases.’ ” Well, I saw that quote as a fancy way of referring to exceptional talents and intelligence, which are not restricted to one race or another but are genetically based.

Two, in rejecting Will’s assertion that judges should “enforce natural law,” the letter writer asserts: “[As] unequivocally noted in the U.S. Constitution, the source of authority in this country is ‘We the People.’ ” The problem is, and I think that this is what Will was getting at, “We the People” are fickle. Natural law is not.

Need examples of how fickle “the People” are? “We the People” have amended our Constitution 27 times, repealing one amendment after 14 years. I will also add that in 2012 we elected Barack Obama and in 2016 we elected Donald Trump. You say “We the People” gave more votes to Hillary Clinton? Well, we will need a 28th Amendment to change how we elect presidents.

Natural law is part of our DNA. It is the ultimate authority. The Declaration of Independence, which predates the U.S. Constitution by 15 years, says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” and that “it becomes necessary for one people … to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”

The Constitution changes. Natural law, the inalienable rights provided by our creator, does not.

Michael Ebnet, Edina


Health care does not fit typical model for competitive markets

D.J. Tice’s informed rumination (Opinion Exchange, June 23) on price inflation in health care (and auto body work) is instructive. He points out that industries that must depend on worker participation cannot achieve efficiencies that benefit the rest of the economy, such as automation. While auto-assembly lines can substitute robots, body shops continue to rely on talented practitioners. Along with other factors, such as unconstrained third-party payments and administrative bloat, Tice describes the problem well.

Tice falters, however, when imagining a solution. Bring down health care prices by introducing more technology? We have been doing that, and it has had the opposite affect.

We will dampen health care pricing when we recognize that most of it does not fit the competitive-market model. While the model works well for the production of shoes and washing machines, health care lacks necessary prerequisites. These include knowledgeable consumers, the discipline of direct payment, acceptance of losers in the market, fluidity in choice of provider and so on. We could fix one or two of these factors, but, taken as a whole, health care is not a classic market, much to the disappointment of conservatives.

Successful national health care systems recognize the inadequacies of the market model and directly arbitrate pricing. Medicare, for example, studies the expense of providing services and the necessary margin and pays accordingly. Health providers grouse about that, of course, but the system has worked for 50 years with less price inflation than the private so-called market.

Joel G. Clemmer, St. Paul