Five Best Friday Columns

Edward Snowden on why Putin, like Obama, must be held accountable for surveillance, Albert Sgambati remembers Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Catherine Rampell on treating wage theft as a criminal offense, Michael Medved on how the 'War on Women' failed in 2012, and will again, Joanna Weiss on not ignoring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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Edward Snowden at the Guardian on why Putin, like Obama, must be held accountable for surveillance. “On Thursday, I questioned Russia's involvement in mass surveillance on live television. I asked Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, a question that cannot credibly be answered in the negative by any leader who runs a modern, intrusive surveillance program: ‘Does [your country] intercept, analyze or store millions of individuals' communications?’” Snowden writes. “So why all the criticism? I expected that some would object to my participation in an annual forum that is largely comprised of softball questions to a leader unaccustomed to being challenged. But to me, the rare opportunity to lift a taboo on discussion of state surveillance before an audience that primarily views state media outweighed that risk.” National Review’s Tom Rogan tweets, “Longer Snowden - Shorter #Snowden - ‘I'm a hero of humanity.’” Blogger Jeff Jarvis tweets, “Does @HowardKurtz feel foolish now?”

Albert Sgambati at Al Jazeera remembers Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “Undoubtedly one of the most eminent writers of the twentieth century, he garnered a Nobel in 1982 for his novels and short stories, and Carlos Fuentes called him the greatest writer in the Spanish language since Cervantes. The impact of Garcia Marquez, in fiction, journalism, screen writing, as an editor, and for his social and political commentary is unequaled in Latin America,” Sgambati writes. “Here, in Latin America, the beloved Gabo (the affectionate nickname used by friends and followers alike), did the near impossible. He explained Latin America and the Latin American reality, with all its mysteries, cruel beauty, unbounded love, terrible violence, and deafening silences to Latin Americans themselves in a way that had not been done before.”

Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post on treating wage theft as a criminal offense. “Forget raising the minimum wage. How about enforcing the meager minimum already on the books? Low-wage workers face an even more upsetting affliction that both parties should feel comfortable condemning: Employers are stealing from their employees, often with impunity. ‘Wage theft’ is an old problem. Often workers don’t even realize their pay is being skimmed,” Rampell writes. “Last month, workers in California, Michigan and New York filed class-action lawsuits against McDonald’s alleging multiple charges of wage theft. These cases aside, wage theft mostly goes unreported. Harsher penalties, including prison time, should be on the table more often when willful wrongdoing is proved.” BerlinRosen’s Daniel Massey tweets, “'Thieves caught stealing from homes can go to jail; same should be true for thieves stealing from paychecks.'”

Michael Medved at The Wall Street Journal on how the ‘War on Women’ failed in 2012, and will again. “President Obama is suddenly upset about the alleged wage gap between men and women, but he's not responding to a national economic crisis. Instead, he is attempting to revive the 'war on women' theme that, according to Washington wisdom, helped carry Democrats to victory in 2012 and might do again in 2014,” Medved writes. “But the conventional analysis isn't accurate. National exit polls from 2012 show scant success for the war-on-women ploy, and there's no reason to think trotting it out again will help Democrats in the midterms. Rather than fretting over liberal attempts to woo female voters, Republicans must concentrate on the one challenge that, more than any other, will determine the fate of conservative candidates in 2014 and beyond: competing among minorities.”

Joanna Weiss at The Boston Globe on not ignoring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “This is how it happens now: Someone commits a crime, and everyone turns to his Facebook page, hoping to glimpse his inner thoughts. And there, on the public page of Kevin Edson — who allegedly put a rice cooker in a backpack, then placed it near the Marathon finish line — was that familiar photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” Weiss writes. “Last weekend, Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost a leg in the Marathon attacks, backed out of an appearance on 'Meet the Press,' after producers wouldn’t promise to keep [Tsarnaev's] name out of the broadcast. It’s hard not to sympathize with her pain, or to want her to heal on her own terms. But as a culture, silence isn’t what we want — because we have to follow the news, but also because, if we lock Tsarnaev’s name and image in an airtight safe, we give him a lingering power he doesn’t deserve.”

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