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I opened up the paper Jan. 20 to see the new Inspired section. I was intrigued and read the editor’s note about it in the bottom-right corner.

Honestly, this brought tears to my eyes.

In a world with such awful news these days, across the globe, having a section dedicated to good news is like a refreshing stream on a mountainside — I felt as if I could finally even take a proper breath.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for giving us something that we may not have even realized we needed. Just good news.

David Langemo, Minneapolis

• • •

Ah, to be “Inspired,” the newest section added to the Saturday Star Tribune. The front page of the section brings the reader in and does a nice job telling stories of Minnesota people doing acts of goodness in the world. I was then taken aback by reading Page IN3, where the accolades of people doing good are simply reprinted stories from other newspapers across the nation to fill the space. If the Star Tribune’s purpose was to demonstrate the “goodwill” happening in Minnesota, it certainly did not reach its goal. If it wants to be a newspaper that searches for local stories and looks in-depth at its own community, then it must take the time to do the work. For example, “A place to just be a kid” should have highlighted one of our own nonprofit groups that remodels rooms for children with illnesses — Gracie’s Room (www.graciesroom.org). Jennie Korsbon and her team of volunteers are inspirations for all of us. Goodness, hope and solutions, as the tagline on the Inspired section reads.

Jolee Mosher, Minneapolis

• • •

We are in the “best of times” and the “worst of times.” In this electronic world, we are constantly being bombarded with insane politics and events, as this is what sells newspapers. Rarely do we hear about the wonderful goodwill and acts of kindness that community organizations such as Rotary and the Lions, and individuals are doing to make this world a better place for all of us. The positive impact of the Inspired section will last longer than the last angry tweet. Thank you for being a “spring of hope” that will take us through the “winter of despair.”

Judy Johnson, Maple Grove

• • •

In last Saturday’s “Inspired” section, there was a feel-good article about the international charity Books for Africa. No doubt, making sure the poorest children have access to the information they hunger for is a good cause. One hopes that contributors consider finding out what books are actually needed, rather than dumping one’s discarded gardening books like old T-shirts onto the piles headed to the shipping crates.

Might I suggest, in light of our president’s unwise slurs recently about that continent, and of the amens of many Americans who once again say “he only says what we think,” that we launch a new international charity: Books from Africa. That mission would be to help ignorant Americans, who could not name more than three African countries and who think Sierra Leone is somewhere in South America, to learn about the intellectual prowess and varied history represented by current writers living all over the vast continent of Africa. I do not claim to be well-read in African literature, but to begin I would recommend the following three. All have won international prizes for literature: “Disgrace,” by J.M. Coetzee (South Africa), “Half of a Yellow Sun,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), and “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese (Ethiopia). For more ideas, try googling “best African writers.”

Carol C. White, Minneapolis

LARRY NASSAR SENTENCING

No crime justifies vindictive decorum by officer of the court

Larry Nassar deserves the long prison sentence he got for his despicable crimes against the young women in his “care” (“Doctor will spend life in prison for abuse of gymnasts,” Jan. 25). But nobody deserves the contemptuous treatment he got from Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who, according to news accounts, “proudly” told him, “I just signed your death warrant” and “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you.” After reading from Nassar’s admittedly self-serving letter, she threw it to the ground.

Nassar deserved no leniency or kindness, but he didn’t deserve to be taunted, either, especially by an officer of the court whose sworn duty is to uphold the ideals of a legal system rooted in justice rather than revenge and the anger of the mob. Aquilina could’ve served justice without resorting to the sort of outburst she likely would not have tolerated from anyone else in her courtroom.

Steven Schild, Winona, Minn.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

An institution that knows how to spend can’t afford day care?

No matter how our Gopher athletes and athletic department staff behave, it seems we can always find space on the University of Minnesota campus for another stadium or state-of the-art training facility, not to mention money for salaries (plus legal fees and buyouts) to support athletics. But now we hear there’s no longer enough space or funding for the well-respected day care/parenting center (“Parents frustrated by U decision to close day care,” Jan. 26). Really? Our U should think long and hard about what this decision says about our values. Personally, I’d like to see my U continue its support for quality day care.

Carole Olson, Burnsville

• • •

I was surprised and perplexed when I read the story about the University of Minnesota closing its 45-year-old day care center because the dean of the College of Education can better spend $500,000 to $600,000. In contrast, the U had no problem making sure $166 million was spent on an “Athletes Village” so that mainly the football and basketball teams can live, eat and practice in a comfortable and palatial setting. Question: Why is it prudent to spend $166 million on one day care facility, and not spend a half million on another for little kids who are actually little kids, as opposed to a bunch of young adults who act like little kids sometimes? Strange times at the U …

Jim Rowader, Minneapolis

GENDER BIAS

Isaac Asimov’s super-lame quiz

I was appalled to see the Isaac Asimov’s Super Quiz on Jan. 25. The topic was “Women in History,” and several of the nine questions referenced mistresses or famous lovers, or women with seven husbands, or a woman best known for trying to assassinate a man. I’ll bet if the topic was “Men in History,” there wouldn’t be several questions referencing men famous for sexual scandals. My guess is that there would be questions about astronauts, famous entrepreneurs, scientist, artists or sports figures. There is no room for this kind of backward thinking in a widely respected newspaper. I know that this is just one man’s interpretation of “Women in History,” but the women of today are here and we won’t stand for it.

Beth Firkins, Columbia Heights