Judicial system, cryptocurrency, guns, climate

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Two articles in the November 18 Minnesota section of the Star Tribune offer compelling evidence that there are two justice systems in the state, one for the rich and another for the poor. “Court: Teenager to Trial as Adult” (page B1) tells us the tragic story of Husayn Braveheart, a teenager native of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, placed in foster care at the age of 6. foster care system with resources until, predictably, he ended up running with the wrong crowd in the “foster care to prison pipeline.” He was 15 and was caught stealing a car, with a bad history, and is now on his way to at least 12 years in adult prison. Does anyone believe he will come out ready to be a productive member of society?

Conversely, on page B5 we see “Former Snack Food Executive Gets Plea Deal For Theft Of $300,000,” where we learn that Thomas J. Wiechmann will serve no time after being charged with theft of over $300,000. If he behaves well, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor and he can ask for a shorter probation than the three years stipulated in the agreement. Based on the story, he’s been stealing thousands of dollars a year for at least the last six of his 24 years with the firm. There is so much money floating around for executives that this theft hasn’t been missed for at least six years. Not a day in jail for stealing over $300,000!

What if only $100,000 in resources were available to support Braveheart when it was abandoned at age 6? Most of us couldn’t imagine what his life was like, but it’s not hard to imagine what the pocket change that hovers around executive pay could do to improve the lives of Braveheart and many like him. Heaven forbid we consider raising taxes to try and improve the lives of “those people.” Instead we pay for the crime and incarceration caused by those who can’t afford what it takes to become a crooked snack food executive.

Tom Salkowski, Buffalo, Minnesota.


I see the US government concerned about investors in FTX’s collapse (“Troubled FTX owes $3B to its major creditors,” Nov. 22). I haven’t seen any concern about “mining” cryptographic data using massive amounts of electricity to develop cryptocurrency. I don’t think most citizens understand how much this so-called mining has the potential to exacerbate climate change. These mining operations depend on vast arrays of computers churning out calculations that, as far as I know, have no redemption value. The resulting power required for cooling is enormous and has led to the reopening of closed coal-fired power plants to supply the ravenous amount of electricity needed. The “mining” of cryptocurrencies must be regulated or eliminated. At a minimum, energy consumption must be reduced, “mining” computers must perform useful calculations, and the energy needed should come from non-fossil fuel sources.

Last month, the Star Tribune published an excellent article on cryptocurrency “mining” pointing out that a “mining” operation has been approved for Jamestown, ND, where the power required would be double the power needed to the entire city of 16,000 people ! (“Beware ‘Wild West’ Cryptocurrency,” Oct. 23.) This is happening all over the world!

Tate Halvorson, Minneapolis


With the collapse of FTX and the potential criminal liability of Sam Bankman-Fried for using client funds to invest in his affiliate’s venture investments, you should be wondering whether Senator Tina Smith or US Representative Angie Craig, both of whom have received political donations from Bankman -Fried, would consider returning those funds to FTX customers.

Sheryl McMahon, Cottage Grove


When 376 law enforcement officers at Robb Elementary in Texas failed to stop the slaughter of 19 children murdered by an 18-year-old with a legally purchased assault weapon, then maybe, just maybe, Americans and our current laws they are not good enough to stop gun crime and death. And now, yet another senseless shooting of innocent, unarmed Americans just passed away (“Colorado attack should trigger action,” op-ed, Nov. 22).

Assault weapons should be banned. Possessing weapons should be difficult at best. There should be no need for civilians to carry loaded weapons in public. Hunt only in hunting areas. All firearms are registered, licensed and insured. Those caught with illegal weapons should be put away. If a firearm licensed to one individual is used in a crime by someone else, the owner of the firearm should also be charged.

Pro-guns speak of responsible gun owners being violated by any legislation restricting access to any gun. Responsible gun owners should be responsible for the guns they bring home. Period. The era of the Wild West and “guns for everyone” should be over. As a society we have shown that we cannot handle responsibility and we prove it every day.

David McCuskey, Orono


The failure of the COP-27 international climate conference to address the scale of our climate emergency requires us to double down on local and individual action (“Climate talks see agreement on new fund”, 21 November). Indeed, the best approach to the climate crisis is global, equitable and led by governments at the highest level. But political and ideological intransigence at these levels require further strategies. There is no time to waste and there is no shortage of good choices.

In Minnesota, our legislature can lead the way in energy security and sustainability with economic and environmental benefits for generations to come; the next session offers a new opportunity. Support for local groups like Fresh Energy can drive action at the state and regional levels.

But personal action is also needed. We all need to become carbon neutral and fast. And we can! It’s easy to choose Xcel Energy’s “Windsource” and cheap to switch to solar to power our homes! We can eat foods further down the food chain and save money.

Aviation is problematic as it requires burning a lot of carbon in the form of jet fuel, but purchasing carbon offsets can help. Groups like Sustainable Travel International and Terrapass provide easy-to-use websites; these groups are third-party certified and support sustainable energy and conservation projects around the world.

International bankruptcy does not mean we give up. With all of creation at stake, he asks us not to.

Lyndon Torstenson, Minneapolis


I am happy to learn that the United States will help finance the creation of a fund to compensate poor nations victims of extreme weather exacerbated by carbon pollution. Helping other nations deal with floods and droughts is not only the right thing to do, but it will benefit wealthier nations by reducing the threat of mass migration. I hope the funds will also be used to help developing nations move beyond coal and gas use and go straight to solar and wind. This will require upfront investment, but will help the entire world avoid the disastrous results of climate change. Those of us who can afford to drive our SUVs, heat our big houses, and fly somewhere just for fun can afford to help other people get heat and light without burning more fossil fuels.

Cathy Ruther, Sao Paulo

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