Five Best Friday Columns

Lawrence Downes on some changes to the immigration system, Malala Yousafzai on Nigeria's kidnapped girls, Amanda Hess on the limits of what we can learn from Monica Lewinsky's article, Susie Cagle on gentrification and the Google bus lawsuit, Eugene Robinson assesses Obama's presidency.

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Lawrence Downes at The New York Times on some changes to the immigration system. “The Department of Homeland Security announced proposed rule changes this week to allow the spouses of some highly skilled temporary workers to hold jobs in the United States, and to remove some of the obstacles that make it difficult for some groups of highly skilled workers to remain here. In many cases these workers’ spouses have similar educations and skills, but under current law they are forbidden to hold jobs themselves. That makes living in the United States harder on these families, and allows the spouses’ technical skills and career prospects to languish," Downes writes. “This raises the question of why the United States isn’t doing more. President Obama gets it. Republicans talk about competitiveness, too, but too often they stand in the way.”

 at TIME on Nigeria's kidnapped girls. "It makes me sad to think that almost a month has gone by since more than 200 girls were kidnapped by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. These are innocent young schoolgirls with their whole lives ahead of them. They have families who are going through unimaginable pain. Their only crime was no different than my own: all they wanted was to get an education," Yousafzai writes. "I express solidarity with these girls and their families. I believe we all are like a family. The abducted schoolgirls are my sisters and I call on the international community and the government of Nigeria to realize their responsibilities, take action, and save my sisters."

Amanda Hess at Slate on the limits of what we can learn from Monica Lewinsky’s article. “Monica Lewinsky opens her June Vanity Fair essay with a barb from the crowd: ‘How does it feel to be America’s premiere blow job queen?’ Lewinsky fielded this question in 2001, while filming the town hall–style HBO documentary Monica in Black and White. In the years that followed, Lewinsky attempted to forge a career beyond Being Monica Lewinsky, one focused on furthering the Democratic ideals that had initially led her to the White House at 22,” Hess writes. “Still, I’m not sure that by speaking her truth, Lewinsky will get us much closer to her purported goal of examining ‘the balance of power and gender inequality in politics and media.’ And what about all the other White House interns who may have thought that, to bend the president’s ear, one must first pay lip service to other appendages?”

Susie Cagle at the Guardian on gentrification and the Google bus lawsuit. “A new lawsuit brought by San Francisco activists against the city places blame squarely on Silicon Valley's now infamous private tech-employee shuttle buses, claiming that they not only spew air pollution across the city and endanger cyclists and pedestrians, but also that they directly displace residents from their homes. But this lawsuit isn't really about the environment. It's about class,” Cagle writes. “Activists filed suit against San Francisco and its transit agency for violation of the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), claiming that an environmental review of the tech shuttles' impact on the city is necessary. They are also appealing the city's decision on the basis of residential displacement, as research has shown a strong correlation between the tech bus routes and rising housing costs.”

Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post assesses Obama's presidency. “Is it safe to say that Barack Obama’s presidency will be remembered as the most consequential since Ronald Reagan’s — a presidency that ‘changed the trajectory of America' and 'put us on a fundamentally different path’? That was the audacious goal Obama set for himself during his 2008 campaign,” Robinson writes. “In both the domestic and foreign spheres, Obama has had transformational impact. Reagan’s great achievement at home was to shift the political spectrum to the right. Obama’s impact has been to bring the words 'fairness' and 'equality' back into the political lexicon. His biggest legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, is a landmark because it establishes the principle that health care should be considered a right, not a privilege."

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