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The definitions of  “sovereignty” and “the responsibility to protect,” referenced by Ellen J. Kennedy in her Oct. 30 commentary “ ‘Sovereignty’ is a cop-out for turning away from global needs,” can be, and have been, politicized and twisted in devastating ways. I’m thinking specifically about the use of weaponized drones by U.S. military and CIA programs, which have assassinated people in seven sovereign nations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen) and have killed nontargeted people of all ages — as many as 6,000 to 9,000 lives ended, as reported by the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism. While the colleagues and extended families of the dead might pledge unending retaliation against the U.S., exactly who has been “protected” and who is “responsible”?

Lucia Wilkes Smith, St. Louis Park


At Children’s Minnesota, nearly half of patients rely on CHIP

Only 5 percent of Minnesota children are uninsured or lack the health care coverage they need to be healthy. That’s a historic low. Unfortunately, we are in danger of rolling back that progress and losing much that we have gained over the last two decades.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) currently helps cover 125,000 Minnesota children through our Medicaid program and provides access to pre- and postnatal care for some 1,700 pregnant women. Nationally, CHIP provides coverage to almost 9 million children.

Research shows that children on Medicaid and those covered by CHIP see significant long-term benefits. They have fewer hospital visits and healthier outcomes. Additionally, early-childhood health care and comprehensive health care during pregnancy improve a child’s cognitive ability and educational outcomes, enabling them to do better in school, finish high school and attend college.

Yet as it stands now, CHIP, started in 1997 with bipartisan support, has not been reauthorized or funded by Congress. With federal financial support having ended on Sept. 30, many states are running out of funds to continue their program. (Minnesota was given an additional $3 million from the federal government to help cover the costs of coverage through October.) We need Congress to pass a funding and reauthorization bill.

By helping our poorest children stay healthy, CHIP creates great health and economic benefits not only for those children but for our society as a whole. The future of our community depends on having healthy, well-educated kids.

At Children’s Minnesota, more than 45 percent of the children we see rely on Medicaid and CHIP for their insurance coverage. It is our mission to champion the special health care needs of children, and our obligation to be their voice on issues that have the potential to impact their lives and well-being. We believe our nation has a responsibility to provide affordable health care coverage to its children.

Join me in asking Minnesota’s congressional members to extend and fund health care coverage for kids.

Kids don’t vote. But you do, and they need you.

Bob Bonar, Minneapolis

The writer is chief executive of Children’s Minnesota.


Employers may dismiss your contributions, but don’t give up

Age discrimination for baby boomers is real, and it can be a slap to the self-esteem of anyone who has a work ethic second to none (“Job hunt daunting for baby boomers,” Oct. 29). Many do all the right things and are still passed over. The temp agencies seem to want to put boomers in one role: customer service. Education Minnesota isn’t interested in helping boomers become teachers later in life because it is worried about the quality. Companies discriminate if a candidate is not up to speed on the latest technology. Never mind punctuality, professionalism, or great speaking and writing skills. The ignorance and insults continue. Don’t give up. Explore all options, especially the ones people tell you are not possible. Find your passion and purpose, and, most of all, believe in the one voice that matters — yours.

Lisa Carlson, Apple Valley

• • •

The problem of older worker unemployment and age discrimination doesn’t end with the financial devastation and shattered self-esteem of the unemployed persons. Unemployment breeds increased isolation, which is particularly acute among older adults. Not only are nonworkers cut off from regular engagement at the workplace but, according to Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” their financial anxiety results in less engagement in social activities, volunteering, political events and faith community involvement. Chronic isolation and loneliness currently affect 39,000 persons age 60 and older in the Twin Cities, and this is projected to reach 50,000 by 2020. The disastrous effects include increased risk of dementia, depression, arthritis, heart disease and stroke. Socially isolated seniors are more prone to falls, malnourishment and early death. What’s more, they’re more likely to be admitted to nursing homes and hospitals, the costs of which are often borne by our communities and paid for by our taxes.

While communities can take part in addressing the symptoms by rallying around isolated elders to keep them connected, businesses need to practice equitable hiring in order to eliminate the isolating effects of age discrimination in the first place.

LuAnne Speeter, Edina

The writer is director of communications and development for Little Brothers — Friends of the Elderly.


When in London …

Reading the article “England: Where a biscuit is no biscuit” about the Minnesota Vikings’ overseas travel (Sports, Oct. 29) was amusing and disappointing. It’s been more than 45 years since my first trip to continental Europe and England, and the stereotype of the “ugly American” lives on. How pathetic that a professional American football team has to ship Bisquick and other supplies for a four- or five-day junket! Is there no interest in local cuisine? Who orders a hamburger on a short trip to London? This sort of parochialism is what causes Europeans to mock Americans.

Those of us who embrace travel look forward to exploring food and cultural adventures. Even back in the day when British cooking was labeled “stodge,” meat pies, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, lamb, English Stilton, country ham, and clotted cream were excellent. England has some of the best chefs in the world now. Any savvy traveler to England knows that London sports an international cuisine gleaned from the days of the British Empire. You’re living in a bubble if you believe most American food is superior. If you’ve had a bad experience in London, change your habits.

Tips on how to eat well in another country:

1) Avoid hotel restaurants and tourist traps.

2) Check internet reviews.

3) Ask locals where they eat.

4) Forget about typical American fare.

It’s arrogant to state that a biscuit isn’t a biscuit. British English was in play before American English. We have different terminology for certain words, and it is always helpful to use local vernacular: lift for elevator, boot for the car trunk, torch for flashlight, flat for apartment. My friend’s father was in the U.S. Army in World War II and was surprised when his landlady asked him if he wanted to be “knocked up in the morning.”

It can be a good use of time on the long flight over to spend an hour or so to do a bit of cultural research on the country you are about to visit. Travel, even for business, can be rewarding — just don’t expect it to be “American.”

Linda Benzinger, Minneapolis