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The media's misuse of data and statistics is pretty much a daily occurrence. Most of these misuses involve lack of context or biased interpretations. One consistent comparison that particularly doesn't apply is the deaths due to COVID vs. those lost in major wars. That is, say the average death of a soldier is conservatively at age 25 and if they lived on average to be — again, conservatively — 75, each death represents 50 lost years of life. The most common age of COVID death is over 70 and even with a life expectancy of 85, that's a 15-year loss of life or less. So, at least a 3:1 difference.

Yes, a death is a death, but a 25-year-old dying vs. a 75-year-old (I happen to be in my mid-70s) is not comparable. This context should be at least mentioned.

Robert L. Didrikson, Hastings
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As our country is beset by enormous disruption and death caused by a pandemic, it may seem disconnected to object to capital punishment. Now is exactly the time, however, to take a hard stand against the death penalty. Minnesota abolished capital punishment in 1911 and is one of 12 states to forbid it. The federal government, however, allows executions and is on a killing campaign. Eight people have been executed by the federal government in the last five months and more are scheduled to die before Trump leaves office.

The concept of a death penalty is unacceptable at every level. It is not an effective deterrent. It is economically inefficient. It is applied unequally across race and class lines. Innocent people are executed. And most importantly, capital punishment is morally bankrupt.

Vengeance is the disposition that fuels support for the death penalty. When a society accepts state-sanctioned vengeance as the resolution of humanity's most basic principle — life or death — we become equivalent to the perpetrator of the crime we seek to avenge. Those who commit heinous crimes must be punished severely. Capital punishment, however, is societal barbarism.

The United States is one of only a few developed nations that still sanctions this practice. We must stop allowing state-sanctioned murder. The human rights and civil liberties embedded in our Constitution and Bill of Rights provide the moral foundation for rejecting the death penalty.

Phil George, Lakeville

Those years of due process count

Two of the letters printed Dec. 4 require rebuttal ("Even more reasons to 'stay' Line 3," Readers Write). The first does have merit in that beginning construction immediately raises COVID-19 concerns, but to say that quick installation denies due process is simply laughable. There have been six years of scrutinizing Enbridge's plan and the experts at the Public Utilities Commission and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have found no reason to deny the permits. These delays will no doubt result in higher installation costs for all of us to absorb in the cost of the many products produced by hydrocarbons.

The second letter states that Line 3 will add CO2 daily emissions equivalent to 16-18 million cars every year. With the U.S. consuming nearly 20 million barrels of petroleum per day and importing nearly 9 million barrels per day, we are fortunate to have a friendly neighbor, Canada, upon who we rely for a safe supply. I am going to pretty much guarantee that, with or without Line 3, our consumption numbers will not decrease and the oil from Canada will move to the U.S. whether safely in the pipeline or precariously by railcar.

The rational experts have spoken; let's accept their decisions until we can park our SUVs and pickup trucks.

Ron Karlen, Mendota Heights
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The next governor of Minnesota will have a lot to address, and among those things is fighting climate change in the final years of the window to stop permanent damage. Our current Gov. Tim Walz has had a long history of flipping and flopping on Line 3, and of course, ultimately giving Enbridge its permits to start construction. For Democrats, this should be a nonstarter come primary season. Minnesota has a long history of successful progressive politics, and environmental justice movements have serious momentum right now. We can and should elect a candidate who will act in the interest of Minnesotans, not fossil fuel lobbyists. Walz knows the damage that Line 3 will cause and that damage will disproportionately affect the Native American peoples whose stolen land he governs, and he can and should be held accountable.

Under Walz's administration, state agencies did not consider Line 3's effect on climate change. We should not consider Walz in the primaries.

Theo Sage-Martinson, St. Paul
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The start of construction of Line 3 demonstrates that our political system cannot make the tough decisions required to slow climate change. The Democratic Party seems hellbent on following the Republican Party into oblivion. This situation indicates that our attempts to mitigate climate caused disasters will not be successful.

Biological diversity declines will continue to accelerate. The actions needed based on scientists' warnings are too slow in coming, if at all. The media's obsession with our country's "polarization" is obscuring the fact that real action is needed to address real problems. Attempted solutions should not be caught up in far-right, far-left, right-wing, left-wing, progressive or conservative rhetoric. It seems as if we are having a collective mental breakdown, on top of everything else going on.

John O. Wild, Minneapolis

Not front-page news yet, but soon

Though the numerous COVID-related headlines in the Nov. 29 issue of the Star Tribune were frightening, the headline I found scariest was found at the bottom of Page 3 in the Business section. It read: "Self-driving semitrailer trucks are getting ready to roll more often." Most ominous was the second-to-last paragraph. According to Russell Laughlin, transportation and logistics is a $1.8 trillion business. The next part of the paragraph reads, "Companies that specialize in moving goods across the country are working fiercely to bring down shipping costs by reducing inefficiencies in the system ... ." Well, Mr. and Mrs. Truck Driver, those "inefficiencies" in the system are you and your livable wage.

Until recently, I dismissed Andrew Yang as a left-wing kook. And then I read his book, "The War on Normal People." I don't recommend drivers doing this, but the next time you're a passenger on a busy freeway, count how many trucks you see in a 5-minute period. It will likely astound you. How many of those jobs do you think will exist 10 years from now? I realize progress will not be denied. Many who made their living shoeing horses were put out by the combustion engine. However, the shock automation may cause the transportation industry (and its resulting domino effect) is beyond scale. I hope I'm wrong.

Daniel Wiechert, North Mankato, Minn.

The writer is a route delivery driver.


Another barrier broken

I noted that Betsy Wade, the first woman to edit news for the New York Times, had died. I was working as a copy boy the night the Minneapolis Tribune broke the gender barrier, hiring the first woman copy aide. On her first night, Stu Baird called out "boy!" summoning a copy boy. The young woman walked swiftly to his desk and said, "Can I help you?" Baird looked up and muttered, "Or girl, or whatever the hell you are!" She sweetly replied, "Why, Mr. Baird, I would think that by your age you would know the difference." The whole newsroom went silent — then broke into uncontrollable laughter. True story.

David Feehan, Silver Spring, Md.

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