Letters to the editor, Feb. 26

Feb. 25, 2014 @ 11:42 AM

Russia has done good things, too

I'm amazed by the amount of Russia bashing in the media during the Olympics. I don't remember anything like this during the Beijing Olympics.
Russia has many bad policies, but consider some of the good things Putin's government has done recently. Russia sheltered the whistleblower who revealed how out of control and dangerous the NSA is, prevented a U.S. war against Syria, and Russian support for Iran is probably one reason there hasn't been a war.
In international politics Russia is playing a more progressive and peace-promoting role than liberal democracies like Germany and France. As in Syria, the strife in Ukraine was encouraged by the U.S. and EU to increase their influence, and then they blame Russia when there is bloodshed. There are lots of examples of peaceful protesters here being dispersed with force, such as the Occupy encampments, and if the government thinks the protesters might actually win their demands, it is willing to kill them.
Russia doesn't treat national and sexual minorities well, and I can't believe the Russian government was really tricked into allowing NATO's war against Libya, but Russia remains a valuable counterweight to the warmongers leading the USA and the EU. It is also strange to hear talk of a new cold war when astronauts can only get to the space station on Russian rockets.

Michael Pollock
Durham


Good to see school standards focus on big picture
I am not a big fan of standardized tests and I applaud the efforts of grassroots organizations such as TAMSA that have resulted in reducing the number of tests Texas public school students and staff are required to endure.
That said, I don't think the tests are all bad. As an educator who has been involved in the development of standardized science tests for several states, I've seen that many of these tests and the teaching that goes along with them reinforce students' understanding of the cycles of nature more than they do rote memorization of facts.
I'm heartened when I see state science standards focused on the big picture. Kids need to understand that all parts of nature are connected.  When they do, there might be hope for continued human life on Earth.

Jean Ricca
Hillsborough