I wonder about what goes into editorial decisionmaking when the front-page story on July 27 concerned Hunter Biden's unsuccessful plea deal while coverage of a congressional hearing with testimony that the military was totally unable to protect this country from increasing intrusion into our airspace only warranted Page A4 placement ("Conspiracy theories abound at hearing on UFOs").
Appearing Wednesday before the House Oversight subcommittee on National Security, the Border and Foreign Affairs were three now-retired senior military officers. Two of the three were former Navy pilots who relayed their close encounters with aircraft they said were not of human origin. They testified that these alien aircrafts were intelligently controlled, contained technologies orders of magnitude more advanced than anything the U.S. or any other county possessed, and that U.S. defense systems had no way to counter the threat they presented.
The third testifier, David Grusch, was a former U.S. intelligence official and member of a Pentagon task force that investigated UFOs. In his position, Grusch received reports like those provided by the other testifiers. He, under whistleblower protection, claimed the Department of Defense has a secret program to reverse-engineer these alien aircrafts.
The hearing's title, "Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena: Implications on National Security, Public Safety, and Government Transparency," might have had some bearing on the Star Tribune's lower-tier placement of the story. The testifiers and committee members discussed the need to reduce the stigma around this topic and the reluctance to give it the attention it merits. After watching the hearing online I would say that its coverage justified front-page, above-the-fold placement.
Chip Halbach, Minneapolis
UFOs — really? Across America there are so many who still wear tinfoil hats and tend to sensationalize each and every bit of information the federal government discloses to the public. The ones who are bringing this up right now should consider putting away their tinfoil hats for the good of the country! America has more important business to take care of, and addressing every conspiracy theory should not take priority over legitimate business!
Chuck Davidson, Mora, Minn.
Finally, Congress is holding hearings on UFOs. We can rest easy now that they are on the job. UFOs have had far too much freedom to roam at will and terrorize our citizens. Stop the UFOs!
Carl DeSpiegelaere, Minneapolis
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Legislators should look in the mirror
There has been much criticism recently of the bounty our U.S. Supreme Court justices reap due to their prestige, power and elite status in America. First it was Clarence Thomas' elaborate vacation gifts, and now it's a review of some lucrative book deals ("New justice signs $3M book deal, joining others," July 28). While strict ethical rules with outside oversight might reduce any semblance of undue influence on court decisions, there has been no blatant evidence of any such occasions.
Partisan legislators seem to be the main finger-pointers at the justices, but they only need to look in the mirror to see their own culpability and questionable ethics. They rely on large campaign donations from big-money interests to finance their continuing political futures, and are expected to offer quid pro quos through their legislative votes. These same big-money interests then spend millions on controversial political ads to disparage any opponent of their desired initiatives. Legislative rules of ethics may exist, but any enforcement would be deemed "politically motivated," so only the most egregious cases ever see the light of day. Apparently, few feel courageous enough to cast the first stone. The need for independent ethical oversight again appears appropriate.
Finally, the executive branch, with ultimate power and prestige, seems to resist such scrutiny, enjoying the freedom of office until some misstep or fall from grace — and even then accountability is deemed "politically motivated." We might conclude that there needs to be a code of ethical standards throughout our government, with outside independent review for compliance by a qualified nonpartisan group. Voting Americans deserve confidence in the representatives they elect to office to act in the best interests of all Americans.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
I have no problem with Supreme Court justices selling books. I just want to know if Elon Musk bought 1,000 copies right before appealing to the court.
Jack Kohler, Plymouth
Please don't smoke in public
Seems like extremely wise thoughts, facts and advice from a very well-qualified psychiatrist who shared her concerns about the dangers of public cannabis use in her July 27 letter to the editor. I truly agree with her statements, and it seems to be common sense that the exposure of cannabis smoke out in public to young individuals and others will be detrimental.
Granted, it seems that I'm in the minority with my old-school opinion on legalizing recreational cannabis. I feel this state is opening up a whole new Pandora's box of problems by passing the bill to legalize it, but what's done is done.
I do believe in medicinal use of the drug. I grew up in the 1960s and '70s and experimented with marijuana in college, but found it not as delightful a time as others found it to be. To each his own method of chillin' out, no judgment there.
I have no issue with individuals having their smokes in the privacy of their own residences or friends' homes, but please not outside where everyone is then exposed to it. Hoping the decision of no public smoking of this substance becomes the one chosen!
Deb Schaefgen, Maple Grove
Find a compromise
Regarding Interstate 94, I agree with the Star Tribune Editorial Board's opinion. Gutting I-94 is not an option. Moving it is also not an option. It is well known that sticking I-94 in the middle of a vibrant minority community was racist and part of the major renewal and transportation projects of the 1950s and '60s across North America that destroyed similar areas. For example, I found out in the documentary "Black Ice" that a town in Nova Scotia and later a neighborhood of Halifax called Africville — which was made up of people of African descent, including escaped slaves — was actually demolished in the 1960s due to Halifax neglecting the community and replacing it with a ship container terminal.
However, being able to keep I-94 viable is important for the Twin Cities. It is also important to reconcile what happened without going into fanaticism like we have seen from the far left, who want to return the area to what it was. Instead, the Rondo land bridge idea might be a way to reconnect the severed neighborhoods and allow for I-94's expansion, so I ask the Rethinking I-94 committee to consider it.
William Cory Labovitch, Inver Grove Heights