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A report in Monday's Star Tribune noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent threat to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine is the first nuclear threat we have faced since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that confronted the Kennedy administration ("U.S. weighs nuke threat scenarios").

We avoided a nuclear war with Russia in 1962 because of the leadership of President John F. Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Joint Chiefs Chair Maxwell Taylor. That kind of leadership is missing today under President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley. We in America are lucky that the present situation does not present a direct threat against the U.S. But I can't help but think the Ukrainian people would prefer a U.S. government led by leaders like those who were able to resolve the 1962 crisis peacefully.

Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley


The city councils of both Minneapolis and St. Paul's have passed resolutions called "Back from the brink." The key points of the resolution in St. Paul reads:

"[T]he City of Saint Paul calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by: actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals; renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first; ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack; taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and canceling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons ... ."

To prevent nuclear war, we could lead the way in disarming ourselves of our nuclear arsenal. Other countries fear the U.S. because we have used them in the past, and we continue to build more. If we want to be leaders in the world we need to take responsibility for our actions that threaten our global neighbors.

If any country uses nuclear weapons we all suffer. Radiation poisoning, cancer and contaminated food and water are just a few of the painful repercussions of using this deadly force. Are we willing to risk these consequences? Now is the time to put public pressure on legislators to act on our behalf and acknowledge that we are all global neighbors and can't risk nuclear weapons threatening other countries as a viable solution to resolving our differences.

Karen Stevensen, St. Paul


Revolt involves a lot, but not Israel

I read with interest Ahmed Tharwat's "Iran revolt is about much more than clothes" (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 4) because like so many other Minnesotan women I've been captivated by the bravery of ordinary Iranian women, and men, who are literally risking their lives to protest Iran's cruel theocracy. While I agree with Tharwat that these protests are about more than clothes, his concluding libel of Israel is as inflammatory as it is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Only someone obsessed with the world's only Jewish state would make such a connection, especially on the eve of the holiest day of the year for Jews. It's too bad that Tharwat can't help himself, as such bad-faith comparisons only distract our gaze from the suffering of the Iranian people.

Jodi Upin, Edina

The writer is former president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.


Only Tharwat could end a commentary on the Iranian protests with his usual anti-Israel diatribe. And he makes the unsupported allegation that Israel kills women for wearing Palestinian flags. Of course, Palestinian flags are not even illegal in Israel. But facts never seem to bother Tharwat.

Ken Cutler, Edina


You could help kids read better

It is no surprise to learn that the reading skills of elementary students in Twin Cities schools have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In her morning news show on MPR radio on Tuesday, host Angela Davis interviewed Brooke Rivers, executive director of Reading Partners Twin Cities, a national organization with a branch here that is placing volunteer tutors in eight metro elementary schools. During the interview, listeners learned that more than 50% of the students in schools have fallen short of reading standards for their grade level.

The Reading Partners program provides one of the best opportunities for concerned adults to make a difference in the lives of young people by helping them improve their reading skills and become more confident students. As a retired teacher myself who has served in this program as a volunteer tutor, I can report that the experience has the potential to be — and commonly is — a heartwarming and rewarding experience for both the tutor and the student.

I'm writing this letter to encourage adults in our community to consider donating an hour of time each week as a Reading Partner volunteer to a young student whose life may be permanently changed by the kindness and encouragement of a caring adult. The need is great, and now is a perfect time for those with caring hearts to step forward and become volunteers in an outstanding service program.

Charles Hanson, Brooklyn Park


It'll be tricky, but we have to try

Regarding "Our constitution is flawed. A convention to fix it would be foolhardy" (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 3): With little effort Nicholas Goldberg points out just a few of the many attributes of the Constitution that demand change to provide a more modern and fair structure by which to govern our country. And he makes an excellent point that one of the keys to success would be to ensure that all groups have a fair place at the table.

It will be challenging, but that is a poor excuse for inaction. The worst reasons to do nothing were provided by the people quoted arguing against a convention in the article: two white men who have benefited and in some cases perpetuated the structural inequalities that exist today. Of course they thought a convention would be a bad idea; what interest did they have in sharing the power that systemically accrued to them?

Paul N. Scott, Bloomington


All too true what Goldberg says about Article V of the Constitution. But if the media could spread the warnings of Sanford Levinson, Larry Lessig, Sotirios Barber, Larry Sabato and other constitutional law scholars; and if our law schools could teach constitutional reform in (required) first-year classes; and if our bar association could marshal attorneys to advance the public interest against the great weight of special interests, all might not be lost.

Stan Keillor, Roseville


Who does he take us for?

The Star Tribune quoted Republican candidate for governor Scott Jensen as saying that Minnesota schoolchildren are allowed to choose their gender and those identifying as "furries" can use litter boxes in schools to urinate ("Campaign check: Jensen repeats rumor about 'furries,'" Oct. 5). Forbes Magazine has called this a hoax, and it is disappointing that Jensen fell for it. I am much more concerned, however, about what Jensen thinks of average, typical Minnesotans. Does he believe that a substantial number of us are loony? When he hears these wild stories, wouldn't he think, "Naw, that doesn't sound like Minnesota"? I hope that as he campaigns he finds time to meet with Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans. He will find that almost all Minnesotans are hardworking, practical, levelheaded people pretty much like himself — but not as gullible.

Donn Waage, St. Paul