Five Best Friday Columns

Ban Ki-moon on the steps to achieve peace in Syria, Roger Cohen on the World Cup and a shift in international football, Catherine Rampell on wage hikes at Ikea and Gap, Malcolm Harris on the latest attempt to bury the student debt crisis, Jon Healey on whether America should follow Europe and ask Google to forget. 

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Ban Ki-moon at the Guardian on the steps to achieve peace in Syria. “The horrific war in Syria continues to worsen and bleed beyond its borders. The death toll may now be well over 150,000. Prisons and makeshift detention facilities are swelling with men, women and even children. People are also dying from hunger and once rare infectious diseases. Syria today is increasingly a failed state. The following six points can chart a principled and integrated way forward," Ban writes. "Ending the violence; protecting people; starting a serious political process; ensuring accountability for serious crimes; finishing the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria; addressing the regional dimensions of the conflict, including the extremist threat. The time is long past for the international community, in particular the security council, to uphold its responsibilities.” Erika Veberyte, director of the Women’s Democracy Network, tweets, “@UN Head lays out his six steps for #Syria. Is this indication that Special Envoy will be appointed soon?”

Roger Cohen at The New York Times on the World Cup and a shift in international football. “When Spain, Italy and England have all gone home, and the United States is through to the Round of 16 of the World Cup, something has shifted in the beautiful game. America, less naïve with each recent World Cup, deserves its place in the knock-out phase. The naysayers have already been forgotten. It’s been a beautiful, open World Cup,” Cohen writes. “No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America. It is no surprise, then, that teams from the Americas have done well. Even Costa Rica is through, as is Uruguay. But I’ve been fascinated by the teams without big stars that have demonstrated how effective teamwork, speed and organization can be. I’m thinking of Mexico and Chile, above all, although the United States has some of the same qualities.” The New York Times’ Alison Smale tweets, “Roger Cohen in fine form on terrific (bar England) World Cup: Messi, James, Brooks etc A Shift in the Beautiful Game.”

Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post on wage hikes at Ikea and Gap. “It’s a sad state of affairs when companies that pay some of their workers poverty-level wages are celebrated for their beneficence. On Thursday, with a bit of pomp, circumstance and self-back-patting, Ikea announced it would give some of its workers a raise. The Swedish ready-to-assemble furniture retailer trumpeted that it was boosting its 'average minimum hourly wage in existing U.S. stores' to $10.76, affecting about half its American workforce. But did you catch Ikea’s statistical sleight of hand?” Rampell writes. “I’m referring to the slippery word ‘average.’ On average, Ikea says, its U.S. workers will make a minimum of $10.76. And averages can hide a lot. The Gap has also been on a media blitz, and encouraged its workers to wear all white, to publicize the rollout this week of its $9-an-hour wage minimum. The problem, of course, is that $9 an hour, or even an 'average' of $10.76 an hour, still isn’t that much.”

Malcolm Harris at Al Jazeera America on the latest attempt to bury the student debt crisis. “For the last few years, even higher education’s most ardent boosters have admitted the industry has a serious cost problem. Earlier this week, a report from the Brookings Institution made waves for implying that the answer to its titular question ‘Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?’ is ‘no.’ David Leonhardt, managing editor of the New York Times explainer vertical The Upshot, more or less reprinted a dissent-free summary of the report as fact on the paper’s third page — near-perfect traction for Brookings. Some other commentators have poked holes in the Brookings report, but the Times placement means it’s probably too late,” Harries writes. “Still, these reports are right about one thing: The student debt bubble isn’t going to explode like the housing bubble. Instead, it’s going to fill slowly as it grows over decades, burdening borrowers further and further into the future.”

Jon Healey at The Los Angeles Times on whether America should follow Europe and ask Google to forget. “Google started its forget-me-now program in Europe on Thursday, complying with an order handed down by the continent's highest court last month. Under that order, individuals can demand that Google remove links to information that they consider ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.’ The news prompted at least one Google critic, John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, to argue that the company should be doing the same thing closer to home,” Healey writes. “Much of the rhetoric in favor of the ‘right to be forgotten’ concerns the ill-advised things that people do when they're young (ironically enough, an age presumed to be the most tech-literate). And I could be persuaded about the merits of a forget-me-now mandate tailored to items by or about those under 21. What started happening in Europe, however, is not so narrow.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.