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The truth matters

Donald Trump applauded Vladimir Putin for not quickly retaliating against Obama's sanctions over Russia's cyberattacks during the election.

"Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!" Trump tweeted.

Obviously, this is not the first time the president-elect praised the Russian leader. After receiving Putin's endorsement during a vital stage in the campaign, Trump declared, "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."

In response to this flattery, Putin went one step further: "He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that... He is the absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it."

Let us set aside the allegations, conspiracies, and pride and prejudice. How can it not matter to Putin's supporters — including the president-elect — that he is a cold- blooded kleptomaniac who oversees the world's largest mafia state?

How can it not matter to them that Putin violently eliminates anyone or any group that tries to oppose him? How can it not matter that in a 2015 Democracy Index study, Economist magazine classified Russia as "authoritarian" and ranked it 132nd out of 167 countries?

How can it not matter that Putin condoned the use of bunker-busting bombs to destroy underground hospitals and safety zones in Syria? He is a war criminal and vicious enemy of human rights. How can that not matter?

Perhaps Nietzsche said it best: "There are various eyes. Even the Sphinx has eyes: and as a result there are various truths, and as a result there is no truth."

But the truth matters to me. I care about those kids in Syria. I care about those journalists and reporters who have been killed for doing their job. I care about my homosexual brothers and sisters who are persecuted for being themselves. I care about a free press. I care about human rights.

That matters to me. The truth matters to me. It may not matter to Putin and Trump, but it sure as hell matters to me.

GEORGE CASSIDY PAYNE

Founder, Gandhi Earth Keepers International

Charters don't cut it

The writer of "Segregated schools fuel racism" (Feedback, January 4), might be making some mistakes about charter schools. The segregation in our schools is much more closely aligned to parents' socioeconomic status, not race.

Rochester city schools are set up and structured just like every suburban school: teaching positions are filled with qualified, knowledgeable, and dedicated people who really try to teach every child. But the poorest, neglected children with no support at home are concentrated in the city.

Charter schools are set up for parents who aren't willing to try to fix the problem; they want to run away from it. But charters just don't have the resources needed to teach every city school student.

There are additional problems with our charters, some related to their own structure and some related to the teaching profession in general. Teaching is difficult; more than one-third of newly certified teachers leave the profession within their first three years.

Twenty-five years ago, new teachers with high grades got jobs in New York State, while teachers with low grades got jobs in other states. After a while, those teachers who were dedicated to teaching moved back to NYS for jobs.

Now, teachers who don't find jobs in local school districts can find jobs in charter schools where teachers have no union and poor long-term employment prospects, so the good teachers leave.

And while teachers at charters are energetic, they tend to have little depth, which is not a good long-term solution for educating our children.

So charters may seem like a good idea, but they aren't able to achieve the goals they've set. The problem comes back to fixing our public schools.

All schools should be able to serve all students and there should be an equal distribution of resources.

The recent expansion of Rochester's Urban-Suburban program to more school systems in spite of protests is to be recognized and applauded.

DAVID WALSH

Readers are still talking about a proposed Whole Foods store on Monroe Avenue in Brighton.

As a Brighton resident, the stretch of Monroe Avenue from French Road to 590 is probably the worst stretch of traffic anywhere! No matter the time of day. Way too big of a project, especially right at the foot of the 590 interchanges!

DISCOVER ROCHESTER

As a bike rider, I avoid Monroe like the plague that road is. If Whole Foods really cared, they would have come to Rochester 20 years ago, and in a better location.

I'm sick of the blame game. Trader Joe's is 1,000 feet from Wegmans' flagship store and is doing fine.

What's next? Daniele Family Companies blames Russia for the delay? Take responsibility! Pick a better spot!

DAVID GREENHILL

Whole Foods isn't perfect. What I do like is that they carry more vegan options and they offer a FREE whole food plant-based nutrition-lifestyle program to all of their employees. Wegmans offers the Weight Watchers program to its employees.

Whole Foods' co-CEO's are vegan and have helped WF become the most progressive large US grocer in terms of animal welfare concerns.

LISA TAYLOR

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