The facts about Venezuela
The US media pose as the counterweight to Trump's unlawful excesses at home. Yet in the case of Venezuela, the media's biased reporting uncritically supports Trump's illegal push for yet another hostile regime change, ignoring the US role in the tragedy there.
This is reminiscent of the media's rubber stamp of George W. Bush's lies about Iraq's WMD's, enabling an inept regime change that destroyed the Middle East. In the case of Venezuela, the media sorts through contested facts, exaggerating the illegitimacy of Maduro's election, the popular support for Guaidó's self-proclaimed presidency, and the domestic source of the people's suffering.
But there is a deeper geopolitical context kept absent once again from the media debate, just as the false WMD claims went unchallenged. These involve US goals and strategies that require official lies and deceit.
Think, for example, of the US goal of regional hegemony, whether in the Middle East or in South America, and the goal of controlling the oil underground. And consider the strategies to achieve these goals: the deceitful demonization of a country's leader as tyrant and threat, the intentional crippling of a country's economy with sanctions, justifying intervention as "humanitarian aid."
These strategies now in play in Venezuela have been used by the US repeatedly and have repeatedly gone unchallenged by the corporate media whose interests it shares.
Such unchallenged regime-change strategies are best exemplified by the long, bloody history of US-led coups in Latin American countries, many engineered by the very same players, such as Elliot Abrams, now forging Trump's Venezuela policy.
The media coverup of Bush's WMD untruths, however catastrophic, possibly pales beside this reprehensibly willful and potentially blood-soaked amnesia perpetrated by the nation's media on an uninformed American citizenry. Such is the story of Venezuela missing from our nation's headlines.
Matlin is secretary of the Rochester Committee on Latin America.
Whole Foods' opponents
A letter writer in your February 20 edition asks, "Who's behind the opposition to Whole Foods?"
I'll tell you who: The majority of the people in Brighton. To be more accurate, what we are against is not Whole Foods, per se, but the "incentive zoning" that allows wealthy developers to buy their way around the zoning regulations the rest of us must follow.
I attended most of the town meetings regarding this project. In my 20 years in Brighton, I have never seen crowds that size at a public meeting on any other topic, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke against the project.
They were young and old, formal and casual, eloquent and blunt, angry and measured – all of them concerned. I speak here not of the lawyers, developers, traffic engineers, or architects; I speak of the people of Brighton, not paid to turn out, but in attendance because they live here and care about their town.
The supervisor and others speak of "open government," and there is no denying that they gave us multiple, generous opportunities to voice our concerns. The frustration I believe many of us feel is that they did a lot of listening, but failed to hear the fundamental message of the people: We want this project (and all local development) to follow regular zoning regulations.
If we take a look at projects that have received special deals from governments in our region – like The Reserve (Brighton), City Gate (Rochester), and others – we can see that "incentive zoning" and other such programs are not a panacea for the public. The developer in the case of the Whole Foods project has given us ample reason for concern. What we would gain from a process steeped in integrity, honesty, and equality is worth more than any ''amenities" a developer can provide. We can improve our town in other ways, without selling our souls, while regular zoning requirements are met.
There is no mystery, no conspiracy here: only citizens speaking their minds.
Students and the schools
On a reader's Feedback statement regarding the challenges facing the school district and city students: Having been a student, parent, and teacher in the Rochester City School District (1948-1996), I would like to echo Jack Disraeli's comments apropos of what I perceive to be the district's "elephant in the room." While acknowledging "poverty and a difficult home situation," he observes that "unless a student can come into a school with a certain level of civil behavior, nothing will change."
If one does the simple math, the city school district expends in excess of $30,000 on average per pupil. This, in a budget approaching one billion dollars – ignoring another billion-plus for recent capital expenditure.
Sadly, since the days of Herman Goldberg and other superintendents who moved on to responsible positions in Washington and in larger states and urban districts, no one seems to have had a solution for a foundering urban system.
Perhaps Mr. Disraeli knows more than most?