'Boston Strong': Tragedy on sale

A man looks at "Boston Strong" t-shirts on display at a store. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Does the US celebrate t-shirt tragedies?

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

Today's must-read

A year after the Boston Marathon bombing, city leaders are honouring the dead and injured with parades, ceremonies and a special night at a professional baseball stadium. The "Boston Strong" slogan has become ubiquitous, appearing on t-shirts and trinkets in stores throughout the city.

This is no way to commemorate a tragedy, writes Marc Dion of the Fall River Herald News in southern Massachusetts. Death shouldn't be a halftime show and another excuse to sell merchandise.

"I live in vigil nation," he writes, "where we orchestrate the living hell out of every death, where we throw the word 'hero' around like a drunk throwing a nickel tip at a bartender."

Death should be treated with quiet dignity and respect - something the ceremonies marking the anniversary of the tragedy fail to do.

"As the notes of Amazing Grace, played by the obligatory lone bagpiper, fade away in the ballpark dusk," he writes, "we head to the concession stand for a plate of $18 cardboard nachos."

He concludes:

If this were a strong nation, strong in mind and strong in faith, we would not be so in love with death, so constantly needing to "pay tribute to our heroes," so hungry for the notes of "Taps" dying away in the air, so distracted by foolishness that we cannot tell the difference between a funeral and a twi-night doubleheader at the old ballyard.


The UK's human rights 'farce' - China has cancelled bilateral consultations with the UK on human rights following the publication of the British government's annual human rights report. The report listed China as a "country of concern" and criticised government infringements on free speech and association over the past year.

The UK should "sweep its own doorstep", write the editors of China Daily, instead of "pointing fingers at other countries".

They point to civilian casualties following UK participation in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal as examples of UK human rights transgressions.

"Instead of helping to create a way to see and feel the real China, Britain has built a wall that stands in China's way to the world and closed the door for dialogue by taking human rights issues as a pretext for interfering in China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty," they write.


Reflections spreading violence - Following the bombing of a bus station near the Nigerian capital of Abuja and reports of mass abductions of teenage girls at a boarding school in the north-east of the country, BBC correspondent Will Ross says it "feels like the insecurity in this country is spiralling out of control".

He tells World Service's Newsday that "it's hard to know which incidents to report on".

Nigeria's leaders aren't helping the situation, he adds. "With a divisive election looming," he says, "the politicians struggle to even sit in the same room to work out how to stop all this carnage."

South Africa

Media will never be the same - The Oscar Pistorius trial has changed the "media ecology" in South Africa, writes Anton Harber for the New Zealand Herald. Since the court proceedings began, the country has spawned three new 24/7 news channels, as well as a Pistorius-central TV and radio channel.

As a result, Harber writes, the South African public knows more than ever about how their courts work, but when it comes to the larger implications of the trial, the media coverage has been superficial - neglecting to deal with issues like gun culture, gender-based violence and public safety.

"Coverage - and the conversation around it - is being driven by social media," he writes. "Conventional media tries to keep up by covering the Twitter and Facebook chatter second-hand."


The rise of the business-politician - Business is beginning to take a larger role in Indian politics - and that may not be a good thing, writes the Frontier Post's Saroj Mohanty. While corporate funding isn't new, election finance hasn't dominated the public discourse like it has during this cycle.

"There are a lot of areas of Indian society that need more money - schools, health centres and infrastructures," he says. "The one area where it is not needed is in politics, electoral politics. It is time to decouple the two."

BBC Monitoring's quote of the day

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is widely expected to win the nation's 17 April presidential election. Several commentators are concerned, however, that the president is too ill to govern the country.

"The atmosphere across the country was rather odd yesterday. For the first time, Algerians are taking part in an election they realize is crucial. And for the first time they sense some sort of danger on the horizon, not because the media have triggered chaos and fear of change, but because people realize that change is necessary, especially after watching TV footage of the president. Yes, he did cast his vote at the ballot box, but he did so while being accompanied to a separate room - a legal procedure allowed for people with special needs. Whatever today's election results, Algeria will not be fine in the years to come." - Hada Hazame in Algeria's Al-Fadjr.

"The scene as the Algerian president cast his vote in a wheelchair with his hands shaking and his aides bringing him the voting papers sums up everything about the presidential election in Algeria and the implications of the certain victory of the incumbent president. The scene sums up an acute crisis that goes deep into the Algerian regime and into its backbone, the army." - Abd-al-Ali Hami al-Din in the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

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.

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