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If the media insists on dishing up so many stories about an election that is over a year away, journalists need to be more precise with their language about the state of the contest. Much of the coverage has been referring to one particular candidate in the Democratic field as the “front-runner.” Presumably certain polls have garnered higher numbers for this candidate, but which ones? What are their methods? This early in the race, how much do we care? Should we care at all after the last presidential election, when the polls were wildly inaccurate?

The language matters because it can affect voting behavior. If voters believe one candidate has a substantial advantage, they (1) might vote for that candidate simply because they think everyone else is, (2) might not vote for a candidate they like because they think that individual has plenty of support already, or (3) might not consider other candidates with an open mind.

Especially this early in the campaign, reporters and editors need to do everything they can to promote the discussion of ideas rather than to influence the result.

Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis

NEW HOTEL

Mpls. developers — nice try, but no

I feel so sorry for those charming, historic buildings on N. 1st Street that’ll soon be dwarfed by a stark, minimalist hotel (“Hotel, not offices, for North Loop,” Sept. 17). It’s the urban equivalent of a McMansion. That building could be dropped into any site anywhere in the world. Yet the developers claim they want to “integrate” their hotel into the North Loop’s historic structures. If they really wanted to do that, they’d carry some of the lines from the historic structures into the new construction. They could step up the roofline so there isn’t a jarring scale difference. How about using some of the same materials? It looks like a couple blocks were just plopped in there like Legos.

The city of Minneapolis says it cares about history. So why can’t it protect our historic districts? Yes, this is one: the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District. The city wants to build this project in a hip and trendy neighborhood. Who could blame it? But the area is hip and trendy because of the quaint, historic buildings. Once you take all those away, it’s just another modern urban neighborhood.

I realize the city’s going to continue to grow, but we should encourage developers to fit in with and enhance the surrounding architectural context to create truly vibrant, cohesive-looking neighborhoods. Please, architects, try a little harder.

Linda Koutsky, Minneapolis

SAUDI OIL ATTACK

A good time to invest elsewhere

According to recent reports, the attack on the Saudi oil refinery (“Drone attack interrupts oil production,” front page, Sept. 16) could result in a 10- to 25-cent increase in American retail gasoline costs. If the price increases by 25 cents, it would cost consumers $100 million per day.

We need reliable and cheaper forms of energy called wind, solar and storage that go without all the political drama and talk of war with Iran. Remember, a sunny day is called a “solar spill.” It’s cheaper, safer and doesn’t pollute.

Mike Menzel, Edina

MAYO-GOOGLE PARTNERSHIP

Mayo carries on my grandpa’s work

Thanks to the Star Tribune Editorial Board for its beautiful article about the Mayo Clinic-Google partnership and the way the writers honored the work of my late grandfather, Leonard T. Kurland (“Mayo, Google and a new health care era,” Sept. 16). It was very amazing to see how his efforts were encapsulated in today’s new endeavors at the clinic. Our family was very touched to see this.

Just as a fun personal note to share, my grandpa never actually figured out how to use a computer. When I was in high school, I would visit him weekly and teach him how to turn on the computer and connect to the internet. That’s as far as we got and we practiced it over and over again. We were talking about how incredible it would have been had he had the resources of today in his practice.

Once again, thank you for honoring his memory.

Laura Kurland Nunez, Rochester

DIPLOMACY

Russia is an imaginary threat

For the last few years, particularly since the 2016 presidential election, “the Russians” have been the object of scorn, derision, contempt, ridicule and hostility by many in government and establishment media. Russians and their president have been fair game in social media posts, editorial pages, cartoons, memes and opinion pieces that all pretend to have inside knowledge of the Russian character and psyche.

If this characterization of a racial or ethnic minority were directed at a group in the U.S., it would justifiably be condemned as racist or ethnically chauvinist.

We do not (at least should not) accuse Hispanics of being lazy, African-Americans of being untrustworthy or Italian-Americans of being criminally inclined. Yet, when referring to “the Russians,” it has become permissible to suggest that they are a flawed, sinister and dangerous people plotting to harm Americans.

This is nonsense. The Russians are not the enemy, not the bad guys. They are seeking to survive and thrive in a world made dangerous by the U.S. and its corporate masters. They are not aggressors, unlike the U.S. with its hundreds of military bases around the globe, and most often have been subverted by the United States.

The new Cold War and its current Russiagate incarnation, launched after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in 2016, is intended to provide an excuse for the Clinton loss and provide an enemy that justifies increased military spending and endless worldwide wars. The Russians are an imaginary threat, kept alive by the managers of U.S. foreign policy and the beneficiaries of the myth of American exceptionalism.

John Gehan, St. Paul

MINNESOTA

Enjoying our ‘second summer’

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, feeling guilty about spending too much time indoors, I craved a bike ride down to the local lake. It was damp and gloomy outside, but I didn’t care. As I pedaled hard through the suburban streets, it occurred to me that the beach might be empty.

Upon reaching the overlook I had in fact walked into a quintessential Minnesota scene. As I gazed from one end of the shoreline to the other, it was breathtaking in its beauty and simplicity. Summer’s last days have clearly left us and yet the brief pause before autumn is a quiet surprise. There were a few people in the park and also out on the lake enjoying the hushed serenity. I noticed a boy in a wheelchair learning how to fish off the dock. His father wrapped his arms around his son’s arms as they both gripped the rod and swung out into the lake. It was a fine cast.

I also noticed a young couple laying on the small hill engrossed in conversation, their bicycles leaning against a nearby tree. The sullen and moody clouds hung in the air while the lake was like mirrored glass. A woman standing on a paddle board pulled herself across the quiet waters. In the middle of the lake were two older gentlemen sitting up high on a classic fishing boat. As they cast their line in the water, ripples of circles disturbed the stillness. An eagle swooped up and then down again, gliding just above the water’s edge. I watched in amazement as the magnificent bird flew north, then circled around and headed back south again. As I walked down the small beach, I spotted seven ducks. Startled, one by one they tumbled down the bank, raised their wings and lifted themselves into the shallow water.

Minnesota, with all of its grandeur, still manages to mystify. Sitting on a wooden bench, I kicked back and took it all in: a snapshot in time reminding me that it’s the delicate nuances that sometimes speak the loudest.

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover

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