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The ship sank so quickly, hundreds of USS Oklahoma sailors were trapped in spaces below decks. Rescuers worked through Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, 1941, to free U.S. Navy sailors trapped in the hull of the battleship. Thirty-two men were rescued this way, but more than 400 others died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Standing watch over us

A recent Public Pulse letter asked if wars are worth the cost of American lives.

A funeral for a family member was held Sept. 3 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with full military honors. William Shanahan Jr. was born in July 1918.

People have expressed amazement that he lived to 101. He did not. He died at age 23 on Dec. 7, 1941, while serving aboard the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor. Through DNA submitted by his sister 20 years ago, his remains were positively identified this spring.

His mother — my grandmother’s sister — would spend another 40 years with the pain of that December.

Was it worth it? I won’t address that, but I will say how elated I was to hear the news of his homecoming. The homecoming and burial of a relative who, for the last 78 years, was standing watch over our republic.

Rob Butler, Omaha

UNMC supports an alum

My daughter, who graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center nursing program in 2016, used student loans to finance her studies there.

In 2018, the company administering her loans erroneously reported she had missed two loan payments. The mistake caused the three major credit bureaus to lower her credit scores and led to creditors lowering her credit limits.

Those actions really put her in a bind and created lots of stress even though she had done nothing wrong.

After several months of unsuccessfully trying to get the administrator and the banks to correct the mistake, she finally reached out to UNMC and asked for its help to get the errors corrected.

It wasn’t easy for UNMC to resolve the problem, but over several months, the university was finally able to get the administrator to take responsibility and correct its mistake. The last credit bureau finally restored her credit score just this month.

It’s unfortunate my daughter was abused for almost a year by several uncaring, large organizations. Thankfully, UNMC proved to be the exception.

I want to thank them for their efforts and let others know that UNMC stood up for one of its alumni.

Mark Prauner, Omaha

Downsides to wind

The Omaha Public Power District once produced and delivered its own electricity to its customers.

Now OPPD’s dependence on electricity produced by others has dramatically increased. This dependency has, in my opinion, significantly reduced the reliability of the electricity provided to OPPD customers.

OPPD, like California, is now very dependent on others for providing electricity. Both have aggressive goals for rapidly expanding the amount of electricity produced by wind turbines. That wind power is so unreliable that only a small fraction of a wind turbine’s rated output can be counted on. Nebraska’s nearly 500 wind turbines can supply only a fraction of the power necessary to replace the recently closed Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station. That growing number of wind turbines is already blighting the countryside.

Central power plants have a minimum design life of 40 years. An 80-year lifespan is now feasible. Wind turbines can generate electricity effectively for 12 to 15 years. One study estimates wind turbine routine wear and tear will more than double the cost of electricity produced by wind farms in the next decade, a cost likely to be passed along to its customers.

Decades of generous subsidies have failed to encourage the innovation needed to make this energy competitive. Bluntly, wind turbines cost too much and wear out too quickly to offer a realistic energy supply alternative.

Rich Andrews, Sun City, Ariz.

Retired OPPD employee

OPPD study timely

The Omaha Public Power District’s carbon reduction study (“How far and fast can OPPD push toward ‘zero carbon’ energy future? Study seeks answers, costs,” Sept. 3 World-Herald) is timely and important.

We need to develop a strong pathway to carbon-free electrical generation, to avoid the worst effects of climate change. OPPD could be a leader with a well-developed plan for our own area.

Wind and sunshine are free, and electricity generated from these sources is already cheaper than conventional generation. While work on effective energy storage continues, we need to realize that the costs of fossil fuels are environmental as well as financial. These include health effects from coal, water pollution and fracking-induced earthquakes, as well as global warming.

I look forward to the day when we achieve zero net emissions to produce the electricity that we depend on.

John Pollack, Omaha

Kipling on war

Two excerpts from poet Rudyard Kipling:

”Strike hard who cares — shoot straight who can —

”The odds are on the cheaper man.”

***

”And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,

”And the epitaph drear: ‘A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.’ ”

Kipling was accurately prescient regarding America’s involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

In Vietnam, West Point and ROTC college graduates fought against conscripted and uneducated combatants trained in a few weeks and armed with superior, Russian-made AK-47s.

In Afghanistan, the opposition consists of those schooled in religious extremism and bomb-making, who indiscriminately killed using IEDs they made and deployed. Both engagements appear to be no-win situations.

Stanley L. Davis, M.D., Omaha

Silly lean toward socialism

One of the more dangerous characteristics of the new progressives is their silly lean toward socialism. Not just Nordic style social democracy but the sophomoric pipe-dream kind that nationalizes the means of production, crushes individual and property rights and always ends in disaster.

But experience demolishes this fantasy so easily that odds are we’ll reject this nonsense before it can do too much damage.

The most dangerous characteristic of the left-wing fanatics is their absolute insistence that anyone who disagrees with them is a bigoted troglodyte. They claim this is a bold and courageous moral stance. It’s not. It’s status greed masquerading as righteousness, and they cling to this notion of moral superiority because their exalted self-image depends on it.

An essential corollary to our fundamental belief in equality is our recognition of individual fallibility. Human nature denies us access to pure wisdom unencumbered by emotion and self-interest. Sorry, Plato, there can by no philosopher kings. An elite class best qualified to govern is antithetical to our ideals — democracy is a group project. However, to zealots, of any and all persuasions, anything to do with cooperation is a betrayal of their grand mission so they lash out with a barrage of insults and demands for the exclusion of their contemptible foes.

But we can’t let this become the norm. Without an ethos of respect and inclusion, democracy dies a slow death and is replaced by — what? “Demonizing” is the first refuge of scoundrels.

Mick Knudsen, Omaha

How laws are made

What has happened to our system of government? Sen. Mitch McConnell lectured us about how laws are made in our democracy. In short, he says, ask the president what he would do; then write a bill that he will sign.

Sorry, Mitch, that is not what I remember from my high school studies. I learned that Congress debates, compromises and votes for bills on their merit. The bills then go before the president, who, by this time, should be persuaded of their merit. If the president chooses to veto the will of the people, then Congress has the power to override the president with a two-thirds vote.

Congress must represent the will of the people, not the will of the president.

Gun control is the case in point. There is overwhelming support among the people for change in our laws to counter the gun violence epidemic. Our system of government does not provide for a single individual, whether McConnell or Donald Trump, to dictate whether we make change or we do not.

Our system of government does provide a means for the people to remove individuals who obstruct the people’s will. That is the vote.

Jim Lowe, Eagle, Neb.

Program supports medical services

The National Health Service Corps is essential to ensuring access to critical medical services in Nebraska. However, Congress needs to act now to increase funding for the National Health Service Corps, or this important program will all but disappear in Nebraska.

The National Health Service Corps has provided loan repayment to health care providers, such as doctors, dentists or mental health providers, who practice in areas with a shortage of medical professionals. This program helps ensure that there are medical professionals in rural areas and safety net clinics that provide services to underserved populations such as the uninsured, low-income populations and Native Americans.

If Congress does not increase funding, no Nebraska medical providers will have access to this loan repayment program next year, and eligibility for mental health providers will be severely limited. In Nebraska, 64 providers participate in the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program. Of those, 40 are in community health centers.

Congress should act now to ensure that loan repayment for providers remains available, so our health centers can continue to serve the underserved Nebraska communities in the future.

Amy Behnke, Omaha

CEO, Health Center Association of Nebraska

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