Fighting Words

Let's Boycott Dubai Until It Revises Its Rape Laws

Tourists should avoid Dubai until it passes new laws to protect women who report being raped. The city’s glitzy hotels and luxury retailers create a veneer of modernity over the desert city, nestled on the shores of the United Arab Emirates. In many ways, Dubai can count itself among the world’s international centers of commerce -- alongside London, New York and Hong Kong. But like the backwoods cast of CBS’s 1960s hit “The Beverly Hillbillies,” newfound oil wealth can put you in league with the global elite before you catch up with its social mores. In the UAE, as in some other countries that use Islamic law, a woman can only help convict the man who rapes her if the accused confesses or four adult men must testify as witnesses.
Obama fundraiser

Wait, Barack Obama Is Black?

I am well aware this is an extremely sensitive and controversial subject and may upset and offend some readers, but here goes anyway. East Indian people are very race- and skin-color conscious. It's a trait that is permanently embedded in our ancient DNA. When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008 (and after he won the election), my Indian friends, acquaintances and relatives made some of the following comments about him: “He has light skin and fine features, he's not really black”; “He talks very well, not like most black people”; “The Democrats chose him because he's articulate, went to Harvard and seems nice and civilized”; “He probably wouldn't suffer any racial problems, nor rejection, in India”; “Why on earth did he marry her [Michelle]?”; “I wouldn't be afraid of him if I saw him walking down the street”; “If he had straight hair, he'd almost look Indian.” The list of far more inflammatory remarks goes on, but I'd be too embarrassed to repeat them here.
New York Yankees Derek Jeter

Should Derek Jeter Retire? No, New York Yankee Shortstop Injured But Not Done, Needs More Time

After New York placed Derek Jeter on the 15-day disable list a slow rumbling began calling for his retirement. Many have praised Jeter for all his accomplishments, but said they didn't want to see him fall. And that’s the crux of the problem. We’ve already come to recognize how immense and powerful a player Jeter has became over the past two decades. Now as we see him struggle we realize he is human. The revelation is similar to the first time we realize that our parents are not invincible and are capable of mistakes.
Britain's Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Royal estate at Sandringham, Norfolk in east England,

The Royal Baby Is Just Another Reminder That It's Them And Us

The royal baby is late. This will probably be the first and last time that punctuality will ever be a problem for the child throughout what will be a very privileged life. Really, any later and the child may have to abdicate. But why should we care about the royal baby? The United Kingdom looks to be heading toward a triple-dip recession, which could endanger more jobs and put strain on an already fragile public service sector. Despite all this misery, some 2,013 of the mothers who give birth the same day as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will be entitled to a silver 1p coin with a value of about $39, or 26 pounds. In total, that’s around 56,000 pounds worth -- or about $84,000 in total. Not much considering that the royal baby is expected to bring in about $400 million for the economy.

Hey Florida, How About Revoking Zimmerman's Concealed Carry Permit?

Now that a Florida jury says it’s legal for armed people to follow unarmed people they deem suspicious-looking, and then shoot them dead in self-defense if tailing them leads to physical confrontation, is it OK to revoke acquitted killer George Zimmerman’s license to carry his Tec 9 pistol on his pants? And is it also OK to point out that Trayvon Martin would be alive today if Zimmerman had not been empowered by the state of Florida to take the gun out of his car (all Floridians are allowed keep guns in cars) and conceal it under his clothes. We’ve all heard the gun rights arguments that assert people have a right to defend themselves, and that gun laws only harm law-abiding citizens while criminals get them by other means. And it’s true.

Collecting License Plate Data Is Step On Slippery Slope

The latest revelation from the American Civil Liberties Union about the vast extent of license plate tracking, pointing out the indefinite retention of millions of sensitive records, is the latest in disturbing news for privacy advocates.

Not The Law: The Culture Failed Trayvon Martin

The George Zimmerman verdict shouldn't really surprise anyone. The case really couldn't have gone any other way; in a situation like this with few witnesses and a lot of conflicting accounts, it is much easier for the defense to put enough reasonable doubt in the jury's minds than it was for the prosecution to do otherwise. The problem, really, has less to do with the specifics of the case and law and a lot more to do with how we apply that law.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Don't Call New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 'Girlie'

Name It, Change It, an organization dedicated to pointing out sexism in the media, recently criticized an NPR report about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that described her as "petite, blond and perky" with a "soft, girlie voice." The story was eventually revised to remove those references.

Look, Up In The Sky, It's A Blatant Political Message With A Cape

I don't want to be like one of the bullies in "Man of Steel," but I have a bone to pick with this work of fiction, mainly because it incorporates so many real and relevant issues ripped from the headlines. You've had a few weeks to see the film, so please pardon any spoilers. Maybe you've heard by now that the filmmakers updated the Superman story for modern times, not only by retiring his trademark red underwear and making sure we recognize familiar items during opportune moments of product placement ($160 million worth), but also by offering two bits of very contemporary political commentary -- one so subtle you'll need X-ray vision, the other more powerful than a locomotive.
Watching TV

Guess Who Talks About Abortion On Cable News? (Hint: Not Experts)

Building off a bit of yesterday's post on the lack of diversity within the newsroom, it appears cable news' diversity problem extends beyond merely the people in the newsroom, but the people who appear as guests as well. Media Matters reports that, of the 92 guests that discussed Texas' abortion bill on cable news (the one Wendy Davis filibustered), only four of them were women's health experts. Unsurprisingly, Fox News hosted none, "while CNN and MSNBC hosted two and three, respectively."
At Issue: Poverty in America

The Lack Of Diversity In The Newsroom Is Bad For Society

The American Society of News Editors annual study of newsroom diversity just came out, and The Atlantic's Riva Gold did a terrific job describing the current state of newsroom diversity and its causes. At a time when non-whites make up roughly 37 percent of the U.S. population, the percentage of minorities in the newsroom has fallen to 12.37 percent from its 13.73 percent high in 2006. In last year's 2012 ASNE study, overall newsroom employment was down 2.4 percent, but the picture looked much worse - down 5.7 percent - for minorities. It's bad and getting worse, and the most important aspect of this isn't necessarily its impact on individuals, though that is a problem, but its impact on society.

BuzzFeed List Insults And Debases The Egyptian Revolution

Following a massacre of 50 Islamist protesters, the interim government in Egypt selected a temporary prime minister on Tuesday and detailed a six-month timetable to restore democracy. BuzzFeed, a news website that mixes serious articles with entertaining lists or “listicles,” decided to summarize the conflict with a list of .gif images from the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park.”
SF Bart Strike 2013

If You Want To Privatize BART, You Can Probably Afford Something Else

The BART strikes are in full swing, and the reaction from the locals highlights striking differences in how different socio-economic status groups treat public services. Given its location in San Francisco, you would expect to see a outpouring of indignation from the tech industry, and you'd be right: PandoDaily has this amusingly myopic piece from writer Sarah Lacey (hat-tip to ValleyWag for pointing this one out), which ends with this money quote: "I’ll say this: The last few days have been a rare opportunity for cab drivers to shine. Every cab I’ve taken has been impeccably clean, accepted credit cards with no grousing, and the drivers have been incredibly polite. Although they all hate the scourge of Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, the result of those services coming into the market is what’s made my commute to and from work bearable this week. Competition, it turns out, does indeed make everyone better. It’s too bad no one is working on disrupting BART."

Yasiin Bey's Demo Of Gitmo Force-Feeding Could Be The Jolt That Congress Needs

Actor and rapper Yasiin Bey's -- also known as Mos Def -- latest video isn’t promoting a new song or movie. Instead, it’s a raw demonstration of him cringing and squirming and screaming as he undergoes a force-feeding, a torture technique used on those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. "Standard Operating Procedure," directed by Asif Kapadia, is meant to raise awareness about how gruesome the force feeding process is and how it is akin to torture.
TurkisPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan standing in front of Turkey's national flag

Turkish Police Still Using Force On Protestors, And Erdogan Calls For Democracy In Egypt

While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is arguing for the swift implementation of democracy in Egypt, Turkish police officers are still using violent force to disperse protestors attempting to defy an order to close the park in Takism Square. Erdogan’s call for democracy comes after a military coup saw Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, ousted. On Monday, Istanbul Gov. Huseyin Avni Mutlu announced the reopening of Gezi Park, three weeks after riot police kicked the protestors out in an effort, if violent force dare be called an effort, to end the protests -- only for the park to be closed again hours later when protest leaders called an evening rally. But speaking on Egypt, Erdogan said:
Edinburgh, Scotland

What About Us? Scotland Strives To Celebrate Independence, Too

The case for Scottish Independence has not been an easy product to shift for the advocates of a self-rule in Scotland, especially when they have to contend with those in the United Kingdom -- namely the “better together” group -- who would rather the UK and Scotland stick together. The best argument out there for independence has been made by Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of the independence campaign, Yes Scotland. He is not a politician, he’s a broadcaster, and it is this that perhaps made him a good choice to lead the campaign. At a recent Scottish National Party, or SNP, conference he was able to lay out real issues that matter to the people of Scotland without resorting to the normal political vernacular that many are used to. He simply opened with: “If Scotland was independent now, who would vote to join the United Kingdom?”


Ben Bernanke

Tapering Talk: Don’t Fear The Fed

Looking forward, we believe that U.S. equities will continue to outperform Treasuries until yields reach levels that are once again attractive.
China restaurant 2013

A Restaurant With A No-Tipping Policy? No, Thanks

You get what you pay for, and when you go to a restaurant in the United States, you pay for the service as well as the food and drinks. Tipping is part of that experience -- what makes the service in the U.S. superior to other places in the world. But not everyone agrees with me. An article published by priceonomics makes the case that a restaurant operating on a no-tip policy makes for a better-run establishment. The piece even goes so as far to say tipping is un-American; it does this by using the history of tipping as detailed by an article in the New York Times Magazine:

As Languages Disappear, So Does Our Priceless Culture And Heritage

From the time I was a young boy, I enjoyed reading ancient myths and legends. I devoured the tales of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, ancient India, as well as the Celtic and Norse legends of antiquity. These stories were not only wildly entertaining, and exciting, they also inspired me to learn more about the real-life histories of these magical, faraway lands. One of my favorite myths is about the “Giant's Causeway,” one of the world's most spectacular natural geologic formations, in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and how it came to exist. The Causeway comprises some 40,000 columns (some of which are nearly forty feet high) made of basalt and are linked to each other and disappear like steps into the sea -- the beautiful product of a volcanic eruption unknown eons ago.