Five Best Tuesday Columns
Kevin Cullen on the disappearance of Whitey Bulger's Boston, Jeffrey Goldberg on Israeli legitimacy, Vauhini Vara on the demise of BlackBerry, Shane Harris on the irony of the NSA's fear of public information, and Elise Viebeck on the possibility of OprahCare.
Kevin Cullen in The Boston Globe on the disappearance of Whitey Bulger's Boston The South Boston neighborhood that mobster Whitey Bulger terrorized for so many years is now a nice, upscale area, and even if Bulger had somehow managed to avoid jail, he wouldn't fit in anymore. "Southie moved on. Boston moved on. Whitey only moved away," Cullen writes, detailing the stark transformation of areas that once were witness to Bulger's murders into the modern peaceful waterfronts and their young, hip denizens. "And they don’t care. He is not part of their Boston. He's a ghost, not even dead yet, but a ghost." Boston WBZ News anchor Paula Ebben tweets, "A watershed moment. The "Old" #Boston has faded away. Brilliant piece." "The @BostonGlobe gets an A+ for its #Bulger coverage with @GlobeCullen leading the way with a tip-top column," tweets Jon Tapper, co-founder of communications firm Melwood Global, and Forbes contributor Micheline Maynard suggests a more specific award: "Can we just declare @GlobeCullen the Pulitzer winner for Commentary?"
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on Israeli legitimacy Despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts, Israel doesn't appear very close to forming a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution, and this continued failure threatens to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of Europe. "Israel will find it increasingly difficult to one day act against the Iranian nuclear program if it is hobbled by the hostility of the international community," Goldberg writes. "Partly because of the actions of the EU, Netanyahu is listening to Kerry's warnings with newly open ears." The piece illuminates Kerry's motivations, and Christa Case Bryant, the Jerusalem bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor, writes, "Kerry thinks the 1 thing Netanyahu fears as much as Iran ... is growing [power] of int'l [movement] to isolate, demonize Israel." Joel Braunold, columnist for Israel's Haaretz, tweets, "don't count out the Kerry effort just yet."
Vauhini Vara in The New Yorker on BlackBerry's demise The twin rise of Apple's expensive iPhones and cheap Android-powered smartphones has completely dismantled BlackBerry, as the stock value of its maker Research in Motion has dropped to just over $10 a share from its peak of $236 in 2007. Now, the company announced a special committee to sell itself for cash and its technological patents. "In other words, one of the companies that pioneered the smartphone market may soon end up selling itself as scrap," Vara explains. Sarah Weinman, news editor for Publishers Marketplace, calls the story an "elegy for a pioneering smartphone." Jim Rosenberg, head of online strategy at the World Bank, continues the headline "How Blackberry Fell" with this simple answer: "Slowly, and then all at once?" And Pete Sweigard, a digital editor at The Baltimore Sun, encouraged his followers to "Read about the fall of Blackberry ... on your iPhone."
Shane Harris in Foreign Policy on the irony of the NSA's fear of public information After the Defense Department commissioned a study to examine whether freely-available online information could cause national security threats, Harris writes, "The irony is delicious." He explains: "At the time government officials are assuring Americans they have nothing to fear from the National Security Agency poring through their personal records, the military is worried that Russia or al Qaeda is going to wreak nationwide havoc after combing through people's personal records." Like Harris, Remi Brulin, a Salon and Foreign Policy contributor, notes the conflicting stances within Defense: "Big Data poses no threat (NSA) / If U can think of ways Big Data could pose a threat, we'd like to hire U (DARPA)."
Elise Viebeck in The Hill on the possibility of OprahCare The Obama Administration has been seeking celebrity endorsers of Obamacare, and nothing would help as much as positive sentiment from Oprah and her talk show empire. "There are signs that Oprah might be willing to step back into politics after a noticeable absence," she writes. "But promoting one of the most controversial laws in decades would be a big risk for Winfrey to take," and could threaten parts of her large, bipartisan audience. "I personally love the idea of Oprah promoting Obamacare," writes Annie-Rose Strasser, the deputy managing editor of ThinkProgress, and, as health care reporter Ankita Rao notes, "Never doubt the power of @Oprah — even when it comes to the health law." Rob Schmidt, project director of a conservative polling group, tweets his speculation on Oprah's potential future: "#Oprah knows that supporting #Obamacare would tarnish her brand, so would this hint at elected office?"