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Just saw on the news a map showing the West Coast smoke reaching all the way to New York City. Gives pause to imagine that instead of from wildfires, what if this airborne fallout trail were from one detonated nuclear bomb? We truly are inside of a nightmare dream with our eyes wide open. What's next?

Charles A. Lipkin, Golden Valley

MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL

There's an echo in this message toward those doing their duty

Since June, I have been trying to characterize how I feel about the Minneapolis City Council's treatment of police. On a recent morning, it occurred to me that at least nine members of the council have "profiled" the entire Police Department. They paint the entire department with a broad brush. They yell at the top of their social-media lungs to defund, eliminate and constrict the department. Then, I recalled a similar situation when our public servants did their duty, some even dying in service. They got off the plane and were called "baby-killers" and "warmongers." Frankly, I'm surprised the women and men in blue even show up at all. The City Council's attitude reminds me of the old admonishment that "the beatings will continue until morale improves."

Dan Gunderson, Minneapolis

MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO

There's some sort of karma in recent news involving the Current

On Tuesday morning, the president of Minnesota Public Radio kneecapped his award-winning (former) arts reporter by declaring on air that her report on alleged sexual misconduct by a DJ on the Current (89.3 FM) "does not meet our journalistic standards." On Tuesday evening, after a public outcry, he fired the DJ, this time declaring that "our hosts have to be able to attract an audience" ("MPR fires DJ following backlash," Sept. 16).

So did the standards of MPR journalism give way to a greater need to minimize the perceived risk to the MPR public appeal (for money)?

The MPR News listeners may now understand the betrayal of the WCAL classical music listeners and donors when MPR engaged in secret negotiations to persuade St. Olaf College to sell the broadcast license for 89.3 FM for 10 million pieces of silver, then converted its ill-gotten asset into an alternative rock station.

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville

DEMOCRATIC CATHOLICS

Contrary to the views of two vocal priests, I can be both things

Before you continue reading, please put down your weapons. Let us relax our fists and have an empathic conversation minus the fulminating rhetoric of the good Fathers Robert Altier and James Altman ("2 priests deny pandemic, condemn Democrats," front page, Sept. 15).

I am a "love thy neighbor" Catholic Democrat, bound to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, visit the sick and imprisoned, in the footsteps and example of Jesus Christ — exactly what Catholic Social Teaching prescribes. I am not a hotblooded hobgoblin, as these men suggest.

Saying that the coronavirus is an "evil, man-made conspiracy" is self-described — a conspiracy theory, a lethal one that Archbishop Bernard Hebda needs to strongly address.

The question of abortion is fraught with no-win answers for many girls and women faced with unplanned pregnancy. It is girls and women who must face this, not boys and men who are co-creators and sometimes perpetrators. If abortion is the only question at the polls, then Catholics are without a vote, for surely they cannot choose a man who has paid for abortions, whose choices fly in the face of Catholic teaching. I understand the allegiance to the unborn, and the argument against abortion would be even more convincing if pro-life fervor were similarly directed at caring for the less fortunate living.

I'm listening.

Kathleen Wedl, Edina

COVID-19

Underreported cases are a bigger worry than overly sensitive tests

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is not a test. It's a method for copying DNA sequences so that there is enough DNA to run a test or perform an experiment. The more cycles run, the more copies are made. As Sara Vetter stated in the Sept. 13 article "Is testing method for virus overkill?" the Minnesota Department of Health's COVID tests are "positive or negative" but do not measure viral load.

The issue here is not how many copies are made before testing begins; it's the fact that these tests need to be interpreted in context. A positive result could indicate that a patient has just recently been infected, is in the middle of an active infection or is recovering from a prior infection. Given that nearly 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, I'm more concerned about underreported cases than oversensitive tests.

Helen Risser, Edina

The writer is a master's student in medical laboratory sciences.

• • •

The Sept. 13 Steve Sack cartoon about President Donald Trump's complacency toward COVID-19 could just as easily have been about Gov. Tim Walz. With thousands of new cases in Minnesota in the last week, it won't be long before we hit 90,000 total cases and 2,000 deaths. Obviously, Walz is not in a panic — but I am!

Lack of leadership in D.C. doesn't mean we have to be leaderless here. Why is it that the state of Queensland, Australia, with a population similar to Minnesota's (5.1 million) has 1,150 total cases and six deaths? Or, if you want to hit closer to home, why is it that the Canadian province of British Columbia (pop. 5.1 million), has just under 7,000 total cases with 213 deaths? If they can do it, why can't we? Or, like Trump, does Walz care more about the bottom line than about his fellow humans? Apparently, he has run out of Minnesota Nice.

Evelyn Cottle Raedler, Bloomington

POLITICS

Show of courage in New Brighton

In his book "Profiles in Courage," John F. Kennedy described acts of political courage that many of us assume no longer occur. New Brighton Mayor Val Johnson last week showed that selfless acts of courage still exist among some public officials.

A two-term incumbent, Johnson filed for re-election this fall for a rematch with the same person she defeated in the 2015 mayoral race, Gina Bauman. When a third candidate, Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas, also filed for mayor, Johnson quickly realized that she and Niedfeldt-Thomas would likely pull from the same pool of voters and thus dilute both of their bases of support.

In an act reminiscent of those described by JFK, the incumbent Mayor Johnson placed the public interest ahead of her personal interest. She announced that she is not campaigning nor actively seeking re-election. "I am asking you NOT to vote for me," she wrote in a Facebook post last week.

This is a bold move that will likely sacrifice her own public career, and it is in contrast to perennial candidate Bauman. Bauman has run and lost in the last two city elections and has lost attempts to represent the community in the Legislature.

Thank you, Mayor Johnson, for demonstrating that selfless acts of political courage still exist.

Brian Strub, New Brighton

CORRECTION

Because of an editing error, an Aug. 16 commentary conflated current Jackson, Miss., Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and his late father, Chokwe Lumumba. The elder Lumumba was mayor of Jackson from 2013 until his death in 2014.