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ALCOHOL-RELATED CRISES

Paper serves them up

The Jan. 2 Star Tribune reports on young Minnesotans who die of alcohol poisoning after binge drinking.

The Star Tribune reports on young Minnesotans killed in alcohol-related car accidents, including falls in the street.

The Star Tribune reports on young Minnesotans who are victims of date rape and other violence after excessive drinking.

A Jan. 19 Star Tribune headline: "7th-graders drink before boarding school bus."

The Jan. 22 Star Tribune reports on a young man whose fiance was killed by a drunken driver being arrested on suspicion of driving drunk.

A Star Tribune entertainment reporter spotlights:

• "On the list: Drink Big," about Summit releasing oversized bottles. "The St. Paul brewery's 22-ounce 'bombers' are available at ..." (Jan. 4).

• "Nightwatch: Search for the (hangover) cure" (Jan. 11).

• "Nightwatch notes: A drunken spelling bee / Catch a buzz at the bee" (Jan. 17).

What's wrong with this picture?

MICHAEL N. HINDIN, ST. LOUIS PARK

THE OLD SPOUT

Stick to comedy

Every time I read Garrison Keillor's liberal rantings in the opinion pages of my liberal newspaper, I am grateful that he is not an elected official and can't make any decisions that will affect my life. All he really can do is second guess and ridicule our president, our duly elected leaders, our military and our foreign policy. I can't help wonder what in his background qualifies the man to do this.

In his Jan. 20 column Keillor called the president of the United States a fool and an idiot. Personally, I wish he would stick to what he does best, simple comedy and suing his neighbors.

RICHARD D. ROBERTS, STAPLES, MINN.

Venom becomes him?

As a recovering Democrat, I can see that Garrison Keillor is typical of Democrats who say that they want to unify the nation. He certainly offers a "unifying" last paragraph to his Sunday opinion. He says the Republicans "gave us a president that who, with all due respects to fools and idiots, is a fool and an idiot." Don't choke on your vitriol, Mr. Keillor. I know why I am a former Democrat.

JIM HIGGINS, EDINA

RAILS AND ROADS

Don't buy 'em on credit

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's comments on the future of the Central Corridor light-rail line ("Light-rail project too costly, Pawlenty warns," Jan. 24) come as no surprise. His administration has repeatedly shown a lack of vision regarding transportation.

When are we going to address the congestion in the Twin Cities? Not only do we need additional light rail, we need more bus routes, more lanes on freeways and improvements to roads throughout the metro area. In short, we need investment in the infrastructure of this state.

Contrary to Pawlenty's plan, this investment should not be purchased with the state's credit card, rather, it should be funded by a gas tax. If the Legislature can require us to pay a tax so that a bunch of millionaires have a new playground, we sure should be able to come up with the money to improve the roads to get there.

JESSICA THEISEN, MAPLE GROVE

TRAIN TO DULUTH

It'd be a major detour

For years, there was a train between Minneapolis and Duluth. It stopped running in the early 1980s because nobody used it. Now traveling between Minneapolis and Duluth by train is being revived as a billion-dollar idea.

Why aren't there construction crews working right now building light-rail lines that will move metro-area riders conveniently around town and out to the suburbs? The current line between downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America is a huge success, a proven success. Why pass up a chance to expand light rail right now with a pie-in-the-sky idea of a train to Duluth?

JACK STACK, ST. LOUIS PARK

FEB. 5 CAUCUSES

Voters have a real voice

The Jan. 21 article designed to clarify information about the upcoming precinct caucuses included the following misleading statement from Ramsey County's elections manager, "People have expectations that there's a big event here, that our little preference ballot is something more than a beauty contest."

On the DFL side, at least, it is more than a beauty contest. Minnesota's delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be apportioned on the basis of the vote at the precinct caucus. It is true that there are no absentee ballots, but those people who choose to attend their caucus and vote do have a real voice.

COLLEEN NARDONE,

GRAND RAPIDS, MINN.

U.S. IN IRAQ

Fuel for food, not war

The poignant photograph on Jan. 24 of a distressed and depressed Iraqi woman waiting in vain and rain for her ration of cooking oil doesn't jibe with what we are spending in Iraq to win the hearts and minds of these mothers.

Was the manual for the 68-year-old Marshall Plan lost? The picture illustrated a missing link to what is needed to scratch out a meager livelihood for these people who never asked for this war.

MARSHALL BURKE, WOODBURY

THE A CHEMICALS

MPCA reasons unclear

Why is the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency so quick to accept the findings of others (scientists from the agribusiness giants), and relax the pollution rules for acetochlor use (Star Tribune, Jan. 22), but discount the findings of others when it comes to atrazine use -- a potent chemical banned in Europe but widely used in this country? Makes me wonder.

CHARLES WOLF, LONG PRAIRIE, MINN.

a champion for all

DeGroot will be missed

I would like to thank Ann DeGroot for the years of service she has provided to all citizens of the state of Minnesota. That's right, all citizens.

As the leading voice for GLBT rights in this state, OutFront Minnesota under Ann's leadership and courage has achieved many great distinctions in the area of civil rights for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. When we deny rights to some of our citizens as we've learned through the struggle for civil rights, we are all hurt and ultimately society loses. Ann's determination has made Minnesota a better place for all of us. Thank you Ann!

LORRAINE TEEL, MINNEAPOLIS