Five Best Friday Columns

Dan Gillmor on Mark Zuckerberg's stance against the NSA, David Ignatius on America's Syria postponement, Alice Robb on an infiltration of British words, Yulia Komska considers how much information is needed about the Malaysia flight, Harold P. Freeman on tackling higher cancer rates among black women.

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Dan Gillmor at The Guardian on Mark Zuckerberg’s stand against the NSA. “We should applaud Zuckerberg not just for what he said but for the possible impact of his message. We need people like him to help explain why the National Security Agency – just one malefactor among an assortment of other security and law enforcement bodies here and abroad – has become at least as much a menace to our security as it is a protector,” Gillmor writes. “Obama does Between Two Ferns. He does fancy fundraisers. He returns calls from celebrities, among others in the ranks of the rich and powerful – but not from journalists or the rest of us. And the president needs to hear Zuckerberg’s words directly, and as often as possible: To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure.”

David Ignatius at The Washington Post on America’s Syria postponement. “With the Ukraine crisis, any fleeting hope that the U.S. and Russia could soon broker a political settlement in Syria has vanished. The United States needs an alternate strategy for strengthening Syrian moderates who can resist both the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime and al-Qaeda extremists,” Ignatius writes. “Syrian moderate fighters will need better weapons to protect civilians from Assad’s forces and extremists, alike. The opposition has made a reasonable request for heavy-caliber machine guns that could attack Syrian helicopters. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is ready to supply shoulder-fired missiles that could shoot down Syrian fighter jets.”

Alice Robb at the New Republic on an infiltration of British words. “Back in Netflix’s early years, users baffled by the word “queue” used to call customer service to ask, “What’s my kway-way?” recalls Netflix communications director Joris Evers. Not so long ago, the word “queue” would have sounded out of place outside the tech world or the United Kingdom, but it seems to be cropping up more and more in an American context,” Robb writes. “The increasingly fluid channels between British and American media probably also played a role in the popularization of “queue.” Even if it grew out of computer jargon and was popularized by the likes of Netflix, it’s coming to be used in the more traditional English sense of waiting in line.”

Yuliya Komska at Reuters considers how much information is needed about the Malaysia flight. “The Malaysian government’s handling of the crisis raises legitimate questions about how a historically closed society communicates with the public after a disaster. We need to consider both possibilities when thinking about the consequences of partial information disclosure — in Malaysia or elsewhere,” Komska writes, comparing it to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.  “In light of the Chernobyl analogy, it is tempting to see the handling of the Malaysia Airlines flight as yet another case of a closed (Eastern) society running up against the more democratic (Western) standards. Every society — free or open — needs to walk this line carefully.”

Harold P. Freeman at The New York Times on higher cancer rates among black women. “Since the early 1970s, studies have shown that black Americans have a higher death rate from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. The principal reason for this disparity is the disconnect between the nation’s discovery and delivery enterprises — between what we know and what we do about sick Americans,” Freeman writes. “The reasons for black and white differences in breast cancer outcomes are complex. Although the incidence of the disease is higher among white women, black women are more likely to die from it. This is more than a medical and scientific issue. This is a moral issue.”

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