Five Best Wednesday Columns

Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen on Mexican drug crime, Ta-Nehisi Coates on Joe Paterno's statue, John Lloyd on London's Olympics gloom, Peter Orszag on summer vacation's harm, Clifford Winston on the driverless car

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen in The Washington Post on technology and drug crime Schmidt, Google's chairman, and Cohen, director of Google Ideas, describe a recent trip to Juarez, Mexico, where they say citizens have seen an uptick in crime and retribution for those who speak up. "And to us, at least part of the answer was obvious: technology," they write. When people speak out against criminals, they usually do so offline, finding trustworthy authorities, in a system the Google guys say won't scale. "Technology can help intermediate this exchange, like servers passing packets on the Internet. Sources don't need to pierce their anonymity. They don't need to trust a single person or institution ... In a world where cartels and criminals are masters of innovation, technology companies can tip the scales over the long run, helping to provide an innovation advantage to those who need it most."

Ta-Nehisi Coates in The New York Times on Joe Paterno's statue After Louis Freeh's investigation into the Penn State scandal found evidence that legendary coach Joe Paterno helped cover up Jerry Sandusky's child abuse, some have called for the removal of Paterno's statue from the campus. "But in a democracy, memorial statues are not simply comments on their subjects, but comments on their makers," Coates writes. "Sandusky's crimes should never be forgotten, nor should the crimes of the broader community." He describes the way the football program's power caused other witnesses to the crimes to leave them unreported, noting that the fault isn't just Paterno's. "The statue should remain, and beneath it there should be a full explanation of Sandusky’s crimes, Paterno's role and some warning to all of us who would turn a pastime into a god and elect a mortal man as its avatar."

John Lloyd in Reuters on London's Olympics gloom "The scenes of wild British rejoicing in July 2005, when it was announced London would host the 2012 Olympics, have faded and been replaced by visions of doom. Once the games begin, the sheer beauty of the sports will take over, but for now, most media attention is given over to threats, to chaos, to failure," writes Lloyd. He describes the enormous security precautions, the grumbling from Londoners already worried about the disruption, and the mini-scandals that seem to follow the Games wherever they go. (Think uniforms made in China.) Since their revival, the Games have become "events prepared by armies of organizers," he says. "Is London 2012 poised for disaster or for triumph? Whichever, it will be massive. The Olympic Games, to be watched by billions, have now ascended to a very modern Olympus, far above us."

Peter Orszag in Bloomberg View on kids growing fat and dumb "To put it unkindly," Orszag writes, "the average child becomes dumber and fatter during the vacation. And although there's no need to declare war on summer, there's plenty we could do to combat the seasonal learning loss and weight gain." He explains the trends, pointing out that the effects grow as a child's socioeconomic status declines. His solutions range from large -- lengthening the school year -- to small -- voluntary reading programs. "July should be a time of activity -- for children and for lawmakers," he says. "When Congress finally gets around to considering the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it should include an aggressive program to reverse summer learning loss."

Clifford Winston in The Wall Street Journal on the driverless car Winston says that rather than focusing on high speed rails, government should invest in making self-driving cars a plausible presence on government-built roads. He describes the innovative self-driving car, but points out the many obstacles to its mass use. "Driving on damaged roads is hard on vehicles and is estimated to cost motorists billions of dollars annually. Those potholes could also defeat the purpose of the driverless car because it would be unable to avoid them, or succeed in doing so only by significantly disturbing the traffic flow," he says for example. "Instead of focusing on enormously expensive high-speed rail as our transportation future, the government would do well to stop hindering driverless cars by its obsolete thinking about our nation's roads."

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