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We shouldn't be shocked by now, but Donald Trump and his MAGA allies have sunk to another new low: The border! The border! It's open, a crisis, on fire, rapists and terrorists are coming every day, fentanyl is killing us, they are vermin! But wait, never mind! Let's leave it as is until next year ("Biden tells Republicans to 'show some spine' on border, Ukraine," Feb. 7).

They won't pass a bipartisan bill that provides solutions because their leader needs to campaign on race-baiting and fearmongering. They're not even hiding it.

And just as important for Trump, the refusal to provide funds for Ukraine helps war-criminal Vladimir Putin in his quest to end global norms and the rule of law. A twofer for them, then — supporting two dictators at the behest of one.

In contrast, President Joe Biden, Democrats, and the few honorable Republicans remaining came together to craft serious border reforms and fund our allies. These leaders want to govern, address problems and act responsibly. MAGA just wants to yell, stoke anger and fear, and gain raw power by any means. This is a test for us as a nation — to prove our resolve and credibility to the world.

Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis


Once again, Republican leaders in Congress demonstrate that they cannot, and will not, govern. After crying out for immigration reform for years, when a policy deal is finally within reach, they are wavering on passing it. Why? Because the head of their party, their presumptive presidential nominee, Trump, has never met a bad situation he couldn't make worse. Trump opposes any immigration policymaking at this time, only because he would not be the one signing the bill.

Trump doesn't want to solve the problems of our country; rather, he wants there to be chaos, because he believes it benefits him and his personal agenda. This is the man whose own border policies created international outrage as toddlers were taken from the arms of their parents and detained in cages, with no plans for how to reunite separated families.

The Republican Party is in such disarray it took them weeks and many tries to even elect a speaker of the House, and he is in constant danger of being ousted by his own party if he dares to actually govern. Governing requires compromise and working across the aisle. The proposed Senate immigration package has bipartisan support, and even the support of conservative-leaning border guards. Our nation could solve our border crisis if we but work together.

Louis Asher, Vadnais Heights


Let's stick with a form of transit that actually, you know, exists

Apparently there is a request for the Metropolitan Council to spend $2 million for a feasibility study for yet another proposed vacuum train project (aka a hyperloop). This concept, which has been around for over a century, is more than just an "unproven technology." It is outright dangerous and unpractical ("Hyperloop a pipe dream? Answer may cost $2M," front page, Feb. 4).

One of the biggest issues is that in the event of an emergency, there would be no safe way to evacuate passengers. They would be trapped inside of a vacuum tube, and that is just one of the many, many problems with vacuum trains that remain unsolved.

I am all in favor of building a passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Rochester. If the Met Council is going to spend millions of dollars, it should spend it on that instead of another feasibility study for a hyperloop, which, despite many more studies and millions of dollars spent in other cities over the past decade, is no closer to becoming reality.

Tyler Doupe, St. Anthony


As a retired engineer, my first brush with the hyperloop between the Twin Cities and Rochester was to dig into technical issues. After reading the entire article, it seemed to be the wrong thing to consider. First, let's look at the qualifications of all who are on the many committees. Are these members skilled in the sciences that would be required? Are they grabbing as big a part of the $2 million to do a so-called study for which they do not have the tools? Elon Musk has not shown he can put a successful door lock on a Tesla.

Bill Volna, St. Anthony


Drawing the wrong conclusions

I served as a member of the Minnesota Department of Transportation Clean Transportation Standard Work Group, and I'm proud of the work we did. I was disappointed to see the recent opinion piece from Prof. Jason Hill ("Low carbon mandate could increase carbon emissions," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 3) criticizing the proposed Clean Transportation Standard, which gives a misleading impression of the policy based on incorrect information about a policy in California.

I served with Hill and other experts on the National Academy of Sciences panel about fuel life-cycle methodologies. My expertise is in the practical implementation of fuel policies at the state and federal level, including more than a decade working on the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and several years working toward a Minnesota Clean Transportation Standard.

Hill's claim that the LCFS has increased ethanol use in California is contradicted by the data from California. Ethanol consumption in California has not risen since the LCFS was implemented in 2011. Perhaps more importantly, the LCFS provides substantial support for electric vehicles powered by renewable electricity. This support was worth $789 million in 2022 and is accelerating transportation electrification, including substantial investments targeting disadvantaged communities to make sure no one gets left behind in the electric vehicle transition.

The proposed Minnesota Clean Transportation Standard is a different policy developed to reflect Minnesota's needs and its important agriculture sector, but the analysis done for the Work Group found that, like the LCFS, it would provide substantial support for electrification and would not increase ethanol use.

Jeremy Martin, Washington, D.C.


Change perceptions, not the flag

The conversations regarding the design and understanding of the new Minnesota flag has caught my interest. Recently, in the opinion section, a writer explained what the new design represented and stood for and that anyone looking at it could figure it out. If that is true, why the explanation?

The present flag, reverently flying above our state buildings and adorning many of the uniforms being worn by our stately personnel, clearly tell us what state we are, who founded the state and the year it was founded. Two groups of people who helped shape this state are pictured, both sharing the land. Both have a tool in their hand or nearby in case danger approaches. One is able to ride away while the other only has a plow and rifle for protection. The Native American is seen riding either north or south depending on whether the sun is rising or setting. Perception has a lot to do with how one sees something.

The new flag design has a symbol that is supposed to represent a north star that Minnesota is associated with. We don't even have a North Star team — it went south, like the Native American represented is possibly doing. As a young boy, I was proud to draw my state flag for civic classes, maybe not from memory, but still proud to be a Minnesotan. Show the new design to a student and ask what it represents and they might respond that it represents a foreign country. It says nothing about Minnesota without an explanation.

Disband the new design and allow us to come together with a better understanding of what the history of the present flag is telling us. Perception is the key.

Craig Zeches, Winona, Minn.