One of international diplomacy’s most infuriating political footballs is back in play. Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill, versions of which have threatened the death penalty for gays and imprisonment for anyone who fails to inform on them, has passed a committee and is once again awaiting discussion in parliament, which could come any day. The issue has been in and out of the spotlight since 2009, and isn’t quite getting the media attention it has in previous years.
In a speech before Parliament last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron posed a rhetorical question as he harangued the opposition Labour Party: “Is there a single other mainstream party anywhere in Europe who thinks the answer to the debt problem is more spending and more borrowing?” Cameron was meaning to taunt Europe’s Social Democratic parties, rubbing in the fact that they lack the power to implement the types of programs they’d prefer.
The official Republican Party line on taxes remains more or less what Grover Norquist wants it to be. Taxes must not go up, in any way or for any reason. And that's a big problem, because without higher taxes future generations will be left with a miserable choice: Cope with much higher deficits or enact massive cuts to essential government programs, starting with Medicare and Social Security. The classic Republican (and conservative) response is that higher taxes would extract a different, even more onerous cost: They would stifle the economy.
On December 12, 2010, a suicide bombing was committed in central Stockholm by an Islamic terrorist who denounced the Swedish government for its “foolish support for the pig Vilks.” Vilks was the conceptual artist who had, in 2007, depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a “roundabout dog,” familiar to tourists as a street display in Sweden.
UPDATE: I have written an apology for one sentence written below. Of course, this first sentence presumes that the Times in its olympian wisdom has a more accurate view--one it could describe as both "shrewdly knowing" and "sensitively knowing"--of this group and its beliefs than ordinary metropolitan mortals. The newspaper has done a poll of New York City residents which found that 33% of them thought Muslim-American "more sympathetic to terrorists" than other citizens. Frankly, I don't trust opinion surveys on matters like this.
This week, as I looked forward to the launch of Entanglements, I happened to be reading selections from the Spectator of Addison and Steele.
That we seem to have avoided another Great Depression doesn’t mean our economy is anywhere near as strong as it should be. In fact, most indicators—from unemployment to private investment—prove quite the opposite. What can be done? How can we ensure the U.S. enjoys not merely a modest recovery but the kind of buoyant prosperity we saw in the decades after World War II and briefly in the 1990s? We put the question to few political economists and will run their thoughts over the next couple weeks.
"Why," asks a friend, "is this World Cup so rubbish?" At least, he says, "Italia 90 had a good sound track going for it." And it's true: Pavarotti is better than the Vuvuzelas. But is this tournament a disappointment so far? I'm not convinced it has been. True, there's not been too much spectacular football—though Germany and Argentina have had more than their share of moments—but did anyone really expect much from, say, France? Or England? And wasn't Italy-Paraguay always likely to be a tactical affair?
Europe is a mess. Greece is the country on the continent closest to utter wreck. (And, if not for statements yesterday by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy, there would literally be no hope for a life raft anywhere near Athens soon. This morning's FT smothers even those wan hopes.) Spain, Portugal and Ireland are not far behind ... or under. Each of these countries has views on how Israel deals with the Palestinians, and they don't like it at all. Neither do the past and present "foreign ministers"—so to speak, but not exactly—of the European Union.
Nowadays, it seems like every third Thomas Friedman column is about how the United States is engaged in a green-tech competition with China—one that, much to his chagrin, we seem to be losing handily. His argument's not totally groundless. China really has put more effort (and money) into developing cleaner energy technologies than we have. So have plenty of countries, like Germany and Denmark.