Like many, I felt myself drawn to the story of the soccer team from Thailand trapped underground in the flooded cave over the past two weeks. It’s difficult to imagine the terrifying conditions those boys faced while waiting for rescue, and the mental stress they must have been experiencing. I found myself probing for updates on the status of their rescue on a daily basis — hoping, even needing good news to feel any sense of relief.
Throughout the two-week period, I kept thinking to myself how unique this news story was when compared to the rest of the news cycle: nominees for the Supreme Court, border/immigration policies, tariffs, the list goes on. There was a consensus: Everyone wanted these boys to get home safe to their families and out of harm’s way. The facts were there: 12 boys and their coach were trapped underground and needed to be rescued. There was no finger-pointing from opposite sides of the political spectrum, no misinformation, no outlandish political commentary. Only facts and a common goal — which was refreshing.
The rescue of the boys wasn’t the prototypical happy ending, as a retired Thai Navy SEAL died while helping with the operation. The other side of the story is that members of the international community came together in a time of crisis to reach a common goal, without regard to political ideologies. It was truly a remarkable feat when acknowledging the treacherous journey they had to embark on and the physical state of the team. Bravo to all of those involved in the rescue, and may the fallen rest in peace.
Mike Soderlind, Minneapolis
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If only the whole world could act in unison like the rescue of the Thailand soccer team. We would all be rescued from strife, grief and unhappiness.
Dale Alice Kroc, Belle Plaine
Rather than making allies pay up, let’s lower our contribution
It has been interesting to learn so much about NATO and who pays for what (“Trump turns pledge on allies,” July 11). As it is now, NATO members are supposed to raise their contributions to some imagined percentage, by an imagined date, with no consequence for not doing so; this is at best imaginary thinking. I would offer a solution that is much easier to implement and would achieve the desired results of NATO equity much sooner. I say the U.S. should lower its contributions to the average percentage of all other NATO members.
If NATO members want more money from the U.S., easy, raise their own contributions. This option would be available at a time of their choosing.
H.M.Gabriel, Brooklyn Center
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The president has been advocating the 2 percent standard for defense spending by our NATO allies. I think the U.S. should reduce its defense spending to that NATO standard. That would free up hundreds of billions of dollars a year for us to spend on projects that help people rather than kill them.
Ed Salden, Chaska
SUPREME COURT NOMINATION
I’m thinking Trump can handle
‘burden’ of investigations. Fore!
In the words of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: “we should not burden a sitting president with civil suits, criminal investigations or criminal prosecutions.” He reasons that a president needs all his time and energies to devote to his duties as the president.
Since becoming president, Donald Trump has played golf 125 times at his various golf courses as of July 8. Assuming four hours for 18 holes, that equals 500 hours, or, assuming a 40-hour workweek, 12.5 weeks or about 22 percent of his time playing golf. Be interesting to hear Judge Kavanaugh’s response if asked this question at his hearings.
Kent Nelson, Sartell, Minn.
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In his acceptance speech, Kavanaugh described his judicial philosophy as follows: “A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written … .” While most Americans would not find that statement to be overly alarming or objectionable, Harold Meyerson apparently believes that it would “plunge the nation into a morass of plutocratic rule and evangelical bigotry … diminishing our freedoms and afflicting our lives.” (“What Democrats can do going forward,” July 10.)
Meyerson’s hyperbolic rant is better suited to a fundraising letter than an op-ed commentary. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and other Democrats would be well-advised to avoid such polemics if they want their comments on Kavanaugh’s nomination to be taken seriously.
Peter D. Abarbanel, Apple Valley
Editor’s note: For further exploration of the originalism argument, see “How to maintain the republic? Originalist justices like Brett Kavanaugh,” by John Kass, and “Oh, come on. No one’s a strict originalist,” by Steve Chapman. Both write for the Chicago Tribune, and their columns were reprinted at startribune.com/opinion.
BREAST-FEEDING VS. FORMULA
One can speculate on the influences of the U.S. resistance
The writers of two July 10 letters about the U.S. refusal to sign a resolution promoting breast-feeding asked several interesting questions. One concerned the identity of the manufacturers, another the extent of their influence. Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, is also the world’s largest infant formula maker, so it is very likely one of the manufacturers in question.
Save the Children, an international child health organization, estimates that infant formula producers spent more than $7 billion in marketing in 2015 — an amount that far outweighs the budget of health authorities to encourage and support breast-feeding. A study in The Lancet estimates that the deaths of more than 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers would be prevented each year in low- and middle-income countries if breast-feeding were adopted at close-to-universal levels.
Would a company like Nestle have influential lobbyists and ties to groups intent on influencing American diets and policies? What do you think?
Mary Theresa Downing, Minneapolis
Bus commuter says: Fail
I applaud gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson’s promise to abolish the Metropolitan Council. Busing from downtown Minneapolis to Southdale Center in Edina during peak afternoon rush hour on Tuesday, I and a growing crowd waited by the bus stop as the electronic signage sloooowly counted the minutes until the next scheduled bus — which twice never arrived. Finally, after 30 minutes, a third scheduled bus showed up — on time, I guess?
What’s one to do? Call Metro Transit to complain, as one rider did? Useless, commented another. They always cite “traffic” — even as other buses roll past on schedule.
Metro Transit is described as a service of the Met Council (tinyurl.com/metro-transit-faqs). No, this isn’t service. It’s a poorly run program overseen by the unelected, unaccountable members of the Met Council for commoners dependent on their wisdom, planning and largesse.
Met Council members are of the executive class: the upper crust who enjoy connections that garner gubernatorial appointments. They ride Metro Transit solely for photo ops while driving on highways conveniently relieved of approximately 70 cars per busload, blissfully insulated from their customers: the mom rushing to pick up her kids before day care closes (and charges for every minute she’s late); the lady canceling plans (“just go on without me …”); the woman rushing to the hospital to visit a sick relative.
Real-world conditions cause delays, and some leeway in published schedules is understandable. But a 30-minute commute taking 75 is not acceptable. Metro Transit needs new management, and the Met Council has to go.
Kimlinh Bui, Eden Prairie