Need To Know
Gay rights, gay wrongs. Incredible India. Where, if you're an adult, consenting and gay, having sex is a crime. The top court in the world's largest democracy has moved to reinstate a law that makes same-gender sex illegal. If that sounds a little, well, 19th-century, that's because it is: the legislation was first written into the penal code in 1863, when India was still ruled by the British. A century and a half later, enough progress had been made to prompt the Delhi High Court, in 2009, to strike down the infamous Section 377 that branded homosexual relationships an "unnatural offense."
Today India's Supreme Court reversed that landmark ruling, saying it was up to parliament to decide whether the Victorian-era law should stand. (These are the same Victorians, remember, who thought the mere word "leg" was risqué.) The government has not so far announced any plans to review the legislation, which means that, for the moment at least, two adults of the same sex who decide to sleep together can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. Rights groups say they will appeal the ruling, and ask to have this throwback thrown back where it belongs.
Cash for Kyiv. Listen, we all know the protests in Ukraine have got messy. First there was all that Cold War-esque sparring between Russia, the European Union and the US; then the blockade; then all that unpleasantness with baton-happy police. Things are so chaotic that the US is now expressing its "disgust." But really, there's a very simple solution: 20 billion euros.
Ukraine's prime minister says the government will be rather more inclined to move ahead with its stalled EU association pact if Brussels, ehhh, sweetens the deal. To the tune of $27.5 billion (give or take) in financial assistance, to help it — supposedly — soften the blow when Russia inevitably withdraws its trade in response. Answer from the EU comes there none, though foreign policy tzar (bad choice of words?) Catherine Ashton is currently in Kyiv for talks. Chances are she'll tell Ukraine's government to call off its riot police before Europe even thinks about opening its wallet.
Want To Know
Letting go of Madiba. If yesterday was about remembering Nelson Mandela, today is about facing the fact that he's gone. The man himself — so much discussed, eulogized and mythologized — lies in state in Pretoria, where first dignitaries and then members of the public will be admitted to say their goodbyes over the next two days.
Having learnt from yesterday's memorial service that people will take selfies literally anywhere, cameras are strictly banned among the thousands of people lining up to view Mandela's body. For those who can't get in, his coffin will be processed through the streets of South Africa's capital eveery morning until Friday. By Sunday, he'll be buried — and the world will finally, for good, have to let him go.
Holy man of the year. Earthly glories may mean little to him but he's got 'em anyway, whether he likes it or not: Time magazine has declared Pope Francis its Person of the Year 2013.
"The people's pope" beat out the likes of Edward Snowden (?), Ted Cruz (??) and Bashar al-Assad (???) to win the title, which was awarded for his efforts to reform the notoriously slow-changing Church. Here's why that's truly a hero's task.
Strange But True
In Uruguay, everybody must get high. Well okay, they haven't gone that far, but with the government set to become the newest dealer on the block, how long before Uruguay's drugs awareness programs become a little — you know — insistent? The country's plan to create the world's first nationalized marijuana industry is now just months from becoming reality, after the Uruguayan senate last night voted to approve the unprecedented approach.
Having tried the war on drugs — and we all know how that's going — Uruguay's President Jose Mujica says it's time Latin American governments starting giving peace a chance. Within three months, his drug control officials will draw up the plans for a fully legalized marijuana trade, controlled by the government from plant to, er, pot. (This, despite the fact that most Uruguayans don't even seem to want them to.) And once in place, Mujica's government says, its groundbreaking new model will inspire countries across the region and beyond to follow suit. Roll up, roll up.