What in the world: Russell Brand calls Hoffman overdose 'inevitable'
A review of the best commentary on and around the world...
The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman continues to inspire insightful commentary from around the entertainment world. His work was so compelling, and the circumstances of his passing so senseless, it provides a wealth of material on which to draw.
Actor Russell Brand writes that Mr Hoffman's death "was not on the bill". While we could delight at the "Faustian justice" of the "sacrifice" of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, we struggle to come to grips with the passing of a "middle-aged man, a credible and decorated actor, the industrious and unglamorous artisan of Broadway and serious cinema".
Mr Hoffman, he continues, was "a drug addict and his death inevitable". He writes, "There is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void."
Brand concludes that we should learn from Mr Hoffman's death that drug prohibition does not work. Narcotics should be legalised and regulated, he writes, and addicts treated in "an environment of support, tolerance and understanding".
Schapelle's Indonesian prison saga - Peter Fray of PolitiFact Australia writes that the story of Shappelle Corby, from her arrest for drug trafficking to her time in an Indonesian prison and recent parole, has captivated the Australian public for nearly a decade.
EU goes expansionist - We know what US diplomat Victoria Nuland thinks of the EU. James Carden of the American Conservative isn't a big fan, either. Those who praise the EU's post-war history of leaning on diplomacy and compromise should take a closer look at the expansionist policies that are behind Europe's meddling in Ukraine, he writes. Moving away from its role of holding the US back from the most aggressive interventionist politics, the EU is instead sampling these habits and succumbing to "imperial hubris".
A cautious US destabilises Asia - China's air defence identification zone ignores global standards, international law and even existing borders with neighbouring countries, and yet the US is playing nice to avoid a political confrontation, writes Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute. However, he argues, in refusing to stand up to China the US is unintentionally destabilising international order.
A return to a repressive past - With the likely election of Defence Minister General Abdul-Fattah Sisi as Egypt's next president, many are gearing up for Egypt's third republic. But Yezid Sayigh of the Carnegie Middle East Center writes that the country is instead backsliding, plagued by "deep structural problems" as well as political and societal polarisation.
Olympians without a flag - "Three Indians will compete in Sochi but India won't," writes Sharda Ugra for Quartz. Because India missed a deadline to hold new elections to replace two of the nation's Olympic officials accused of corruption, India has been suspended from competition. The Indian athletes instead marched into the Sochi stadium with a group of independent athletes. Ugra hopes that we don't lay blame on these competitors, but on the bureaucrats who put politics first.
Medical data in the age of Edward Snowden and surveillance - Moving medical records from paper to digital storage has been a hot-button topic in the US, as conservatives worry about data privacy. While the UK has embraced nationalised healthcare, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland writes that the British public has concerns about releasing their medical information as part of the expansion of NHS England's "Care.data" initiative. As long as anonymity is guaranteed, he argues, concerns about government surveillance of sensitive information is misplaced and there is much to be gained by opting into the program.
Right-wing crackdown on sex trade comes at expense of women - Salon's Melissa Gira Grant writes that conservative attempts to stop sex trafficking are making life harder, and more dangerous, for sex workers.
BBC Monitoring quote of the day
Sino-Russian relations: "Russia is a country that has in general accepted a Western political structure... but it is chilling to see that the West is still suppressing Russia... China and Russia are strategic partners who need to cherish each other. Do not be concerned with gossip and rumours - it is an important fact the friendship between China and Russia is an important pillar of world peace and the global power balance. The Sochi Winter Olympics will prove the positive energy of Sino-Russian friendship." - Editorial in Beijing's Huanqiu Shibao.
One more thing…
The lost Sochi of my childhood - The concrete-clad Sochi crowded with Olympians, their families and their fans is not the sleepy paradise that Foreign Policy's Anna Nemtsova remembers. While there are small reminders of the many summers she spent there as a child, most of the historical beauty of the area has fallen victim to the "Olympic boom".
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