What in the world: Liberal Americans and trash-talking athletes

  • 22 January 2014
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Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman celebrates after his team advances to the Super Bowl.
Don't hate the player, hate the game

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

Last week, Democratic strategist Steve Rosenthal wrote in the Washington Post that the US is steadily becoming more progressive. He cites public opinion on gay marriage, immigration reform, marijuana legalisation and corporate greed as key indicators of this trend.

"With the knowledge that most Americans are, in fact, behind them, Democrats no longer need to fear running on their beliefs," he writes. "They should stop letting special interests on the right hold ideas and ideals hostage and start listening to voters."

He concludes by arguing that President Obama should be more forceful in arguing for an increase in the minimum wage and taxes on the rich and big business, infrastructure and education investment, and instituting paid sick leave.

Syndicated columnist David Harsanyi offers a conservative rebuttal.

"You don't have to be stickler for academic rigor to appreciate that an 825-word column with a few links to some Gallup polls is not really a 'close examination' of anything," he writes.

Voters often change their minds, he argues. And the data Rosenthal presents could just as easily be used to support the theory that the US is becoming more libertarian, not progressive.

"Polls show that voters have little appetite for more regulation, much less the regulatory schemes that a progressive would have in store," he writes.

With mid-term elections less than a year away, someone is likely to be disappointed.

President Obama

Inaction Hero - Yesterday we wrote about the recent New Yorker profile of President Barack Obama. Today Slate's John Dickerson offers his analysis of David Remnick's opus.

"The president talks about income inequality and fighting for the middle class as the driving motives for his presidency's final years, but there's a lack of ardour," he writes. "It's the difference between reading a story about someone saying they're going to run a marathon and reading one where they are running hills each morning at 5 a.m."

India

US to blame for diplomatic row - Reason's Shikha Dalmia writes that Indians are justified in seeing US prosecutor Preet Bharara's "insistence on enforcing a preposterous rule of law without regard to the human context as moral fanaticism".

China

The gaping gender gap - There are approximately 34 million more men than women in China. This is creating tensions among "angry young men" that could rip apart the nation's social fabric unless party leaders show that they're listening to the people's concerns, writes columnist and radio host Timothy Spangler.

Russia

Will security concerns distract athletes at the Olympics? - "Athletes know that their safety is in Russia's hands, which is not exactly a comforting thought," writes Bloomberg View's Jonathan Mahler. "How do you psych yourself up to face world-class competition when you're worried that the stadium you'll be competing in will be blown to smithereens?"

Australia

Parliament needs the Lord's Prayer - The Australian Parliament begins each sitting with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer. Recently, Green Party leader Richard Di Natale has called for that practice to be ended. Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman writes that the push reflects "teenage rebelliousness as well as a sad lack of historical and philosophical understanding".

Spain

The decline of the monarchy - The Spanish now openly talk of abandoning the monarchy, thanks to a struggling economy and scandals surrounding the royal family, according to author and journalist Miguel Anxo Murado.

Kenya

Life is becoming brutish and short - Ng'ang'a Mbugua writes in the Daily Nation that armed robbers are terrorising Kenyan businesses and encouraging vigilantes, with tragic results. Police, he argues, need to do a better job keeping illegal guns off the streets.

BBC Monitoring's quote of the day

China's massive internet outage: "This is a serious attack in the Chinese internet security system and the damage and the background of this attack must be determined. Owing to the US's complete management rights over the internet, we hereby strongly request the US government to investigate the incident and publicize the findings. If the US fails to deal with the incident properly, Chinese trust toward the US over the Internet will be damaged. The incident may even become a prominent example for those seeking to conduct Web hacking against the US." - Editorial in Beijing's Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times)

One more thing…

Sport boasting is a dying art - A postgame diatribe by Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman has been the talk of the US sport world. According to journalist and author Gregg Easterbrook, Americans have been obsessed with his outburst because professional sport have become so corporate and sterile that an actual display of emotion is compelling.

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.