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In November 1979, during the last 14 months of the Carter administration, 52 Americans were taken hostage by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran. Immediately, President Jimmy Carter went on national television and confronted Khomeini directly, issuing an unusually strong condemnation with uncharacteristic belligerence. What followed was 444 days of captivity for the hostages.

It was clear where Carter failed. By directly confronting the ayatollah, Carter gave him exactly what the Iranian leader wanted: a worldwide audience to witness the impotence of the U.S. being held hostage by a far weaker, less-influential nation. Rather than giving credence and empowering such despots, it was widely agreed that the far better way to handle such a crisis would have been to begin a diplomatic process at a far lower level; for example, with an undersecretary of state.

Thirty-eight years later, we have a president who has failed to learn the important lessons of history. Instead of once again giving a brutal dictator exactly what he wants — an audience of billions watching a direct confrontation between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. It would have been the far better choice to allow diplomacy to defuse this situation.

It's worth noting that in the case of the Iranian hostage crisis, resolution occurred quickly and quietly on Jan. 20, 1981 — minutes following the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. And Reagan never had to say a word leading up to the release.

Ned Kantar, Minneapolis

Give the proposed PolyMet land swap its day in court

When our elected officials try to undermine due process, we all need to sound alarm bells.

The Superior National Forest land swap that PolyMet needs to put a massive open-pit copper-nickel sulfide mine on 22,000 acres in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., is facing several lawsuits. The HR3115 bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat representing Minnesota's Eighth District, would require the land swap to move forward in 90 days and prevent taxpayers and environmental groups from their day in court. (Nolan's commentary "Indeed, the green economy needs our mining" appeared on the Opinion Exchange page Aug. 10.)

While Minnesota has a long history of mining iron ore for taconite, the proposed copper-nickel sulfide mine in Hoyt Lakes would be the first of its kind in the state. This type of mining has never been done in a water-rich environment without disastrous consequences. The 6,500 acres PolyMet seeks include areas of critical wildlife habitat and valuable wetlands in the St. Louis River Watershed that cannot be replaced.

If Nolan truly believes that PolyMet will not damage the watersheds we have spent millions of federal tax dollars to remediate from past pollution, and that Switzerland-based parent company Glencore will be around for the 500-plus years to treat the acid mine drainage the 20 years of copper-nickel mining will generate, or that the land swap is not cheating taxpayers or destroying valuable habitat, he should still allow us all the due process we deserve. Let the courts decide!

Veda Kanitz, Lakeville

• • •

Three more letters were published Aug. 11 against copper-nickel mining, etc., Up North. Yes, as one writer recommends, it would be better to reuse all those metals from our own computers and other devices instead of digging it out of the ground. Yes, as another writer states, the past mining in this country has not been good for the environment and doing a safer job of it would raise the price on our phones, computers, cars. But would you rather cause all of the environment problems on the Third World countries and their people where they do the mining in even worse ways than we do? If recycling the minerals would provide us with enough so that we never have to mine again anywhere, that would be great. I'm not holding my breath. You want phones, computers and cars? You should accept that we need to get some of the raw materials in our backyard, not halfway across the world.

Frank Dewey, Minneapolis

Despite criticisms, menthol is a perfect target for a City Council

In "Parking lot slaying puts spotlight on late parties" (Aug. 8), Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson called it a "joke" that the council focused on menthol tobacco instead of violence.

Tobacco addiction is no joke. Tobacco is still the No. 1 cause of death in Minnesota and something our City Council should take aim at. Our members are proud to practice medicine in a city that not only prioritizes health care but also understands the importance of addressing upstream causes of health outcomes. I commend the council for continuing to support this broad vision of health and well-being.

More than 88 percent of African-Americans who smoke use menthol tobacco, which makes it harder to stop smoking. The African-American community experiences disproportionate health disparities brought on by decades of targeted marketing. In fact, African-Americans are more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases than whites, and lung cancer kills more African-Americans than any other type of cancer.

Smoking-related deaths far surpass those of murders and accidents combined. It's shortsighted to not look at the long-term health of the residents of Minneapolis. While regulating where menthol tobacco can be sold might not appear to be a hard-hitting topic, it will have far-reaching positive outcomes that will eventually save many lives.

Dr. Matthew Hunt, Minneapolis

The writer is president of the Twin Cities Medical Society.


If Google guy was right about tech, I'm right about, say, cuisine

Regarding "That guy at Google was right about women in tech" (Aug. 11): Let's apply the logic behind Megan McArdle's support for erstwhile Google engineer James Damore's sexist writings to a range of professional fields — why should tech fields get all the gender analysis?

Far more women in the food industry spend their weekends whipping up fine cuisine than men. I know this because more of my friends in the food industry who are women like to talk about their off-the-clock cooking adventures than men. Men only want to talk about the sporting events and fast cars they enjoy so much. This is hardly surprising, as women are genetically programmed to nourish others — they ache painfully if they cannot do this. Similarly, men are programmed to need to be entertained — hence the justifiable anger when a female partner fails to supply tasty fare at sports parties. Given this reality, it is totally understandable that a man will rarely have the experience/desire that a woman in the food industry has. It's not that male chefs are worse than an average female one — it's just that they can't be as successful professionally. So, really, men — don't let the silly notion that you can cook on the level that a woman can enter your heads. And restaurant reviewers, stop giving these biased and false evaluations that praise male chefs! It isn't a field that they do well in. Alas, it is just not in the genes.

Julie Risser, Edina