On Wednesday India’s Supreme Court turned the clock of history backwards when, in defiance of all expectations, it set aside a landmark 2009 High Court judgement that had ruled homosexuality could not be construed as a criminal offense “against the order of nature,” as held for more than a 150 years by Article 377 of the colonial-era Indian Penal Code.
In doing so, the Supreme Court effectively re-criminalized gay sex, making second-class and stigmatized citizens of those it revealingly called “a minuscule fraction of the country’s population,” and returning them to what the novelist Vikram Seth, one of the gay-rights movement’s most lucid voices, called “lives of quiet desperation.” To look at it another way, the Supreme Court decided that the High Court had overreached in exercising its powers of judicial review, and placed the onus for a change in the law on Parliament instead.Read more »
Back in 1999, after the notorious con man Martin Frankel went missing, federal agents found a partially burned to-do list at his mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Item No. 1 on the list: "Launder money."
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc might not have topped that one, but it came close enough to win this year's "Dumbest Bank of the Year" award. OK, that's not a real award, but it should be.Read more »
Ertan Aydin, a top adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, doesn't think much of foreign criticism of his government.
In an Al Jazeera op-ed article today, Aydin cited a recent post of mine and a New York Times article by Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu to make the argument that the Western news media are misrepresenting Turkey because of our "orientalism," a prejudice of West against East that has a long historical pedigree. I don't challenge the fact of orientalism, but it is hardly the case here.Read more »
Are the 1950s coming back? The U.S. and Russia appear to be vying for influence on Cuba again, one with a handshake and the other with money.
The White House says Barack Obama's handshake with Cuban counterpart Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral was not planned and carried no political meaning. Be that as it may, analysts speculated about its implications, and Senator John McCain went so far as to compare it to World War II-era British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain shaking hands with Hitler. Bearing out the theory that the leader of the free world greeting a dictator is great publicity for the latter, Granma, the Cuban Communist Party's newspaper, ran a photo of the handshake and pointed out that it was a historic first.Read more »
Representative Paul Ryan's long-shot presidential aspirations weren't helped by the budget deal he crafted with Democratic Senator Patty Murray this week. The agreement is already drawing fire from movement conservatives.
For now, the Wisconsin Republican, and 2012 vice-presidential nominee, has his sights set on becoming the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the next Congress. The current chairman, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, has to step aside under the party's term-limit rules.Read more »
In many ways Mongolia is an outlier -- an exotic tourist destination filled with windswept deserts, nomads and yurts. It might also be a vision of the world's future.
With a tiny $10 billion economy and less than 3 million people, Mongolia is fantastically resource-rich. And with borders touching China, Russia and Central Asia, the landlocked nation seems to have won a geographic lottery ticket. It doesn't need to go far to find enthusiastic customers for its immense endowment of copper, gold and other minerals.Read more »
With its appointment of Mary Barra to succeed Daniel Akerson as chief executive officer, General Motors Co. brings to a half dozen the number of major U.S. corporations headed by women. Barra, who started at the company in 1980 while a student at the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), represents both continuity and change. Thirty years ago, few would have imagined that a woman would so quickly rise to head such a historically macho company, but several important factors worked in Barra’s favor.
1) The Daddy Factor: Commenting earlier this year on how attitudes had changed during her three decades at GM, Barra said, “You started to see an enlightening. And with some people, they’d even say, ‘My daughter just graduated from college and I want her to have these opportunities.’ ” My own father, who spent his career as an engineer in large industrial companies in the South, has often observed that breaking down corporate barriers was easier for women than for blacks because white male executives could see their daughters in female employees. That daddy factor seems to have helped Barra, the daughter of a GM die-maker. In fact, Akerson described announcing her promotion to CEO as “almost like watching your daughter graduate from college.”Read more »