Bloomberg (Continuación)

Moscow police may be getting to the bottom of a mystery that has rocked the Russian cultural scene: Who and what were behind a sulphuric-acid attack on the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet?

In January, an unknown assailant splashed the acid on the face of the director, Sergei Filin, as he was about to enter his Moscow apartment building. The attack seriously damaged the 42- year-old dancer’s eyesight. He has undergone repeated surgeries in Moscow and Germany.

Police this week detained three men in connection with the investigation: the previously obscure Andrei Lipatov and Yuri Zarutsky, and top Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, whose roles include the lead in a production of “Ivan the Terrible.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Anger in Europe over executive pay is finding its way into legislation. The European Parliament, backed by almost all of the European Union’s finance ministers, plans to cap bankers’ bonuses, and 68 percent of Swiss voters endorsed a referendum initiative to ban “golden parachutes” and put other curbs on bosses’ pay.

Agitated voters, grandstanding politicians and intelligent policy rarely go together, and this is a case in point.

Let’s agree that people are right to be disgusted. In the last decade top bankers led the world into the deepest economic slump since the 1930s, and their firms had to be rescued by taxpayers, yet the culprits aren’t exactly suffering.…  Seguir leyendo »

The creeping infringement on human rights in Russia under President Vladimir Putin raises a broader quandary for the international community: Do repressive laws matter if they’re rarely or never enforced?

Over the past year, Russia’s parliament has passed a raft of measures impinging upon the human rights of its citizens. They allow authorities to impose onerous fines for unsanctioned gatherings, shut down websites they view as extremist and imprison journalists for slander.

Because the laws are often vaguely worded and have not yet been aggressively enforced, some might see them as something less than serious. As Bloomberg View writer Leonid Bershidsky put it: “The parliament has used its year in power to turn Russia from a pretend democracy into an equally fake dictatorship.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The Swiss have approved a “fat-cat referendum" to limit executive pay by a crushing 68 percent to 32 percent, no great surprise perhaps given the current mood on bankers and other superrich around the globe. Yet this is Switzerland, not Greece, Italy or Spain and the vote isn't the end of it. Switzerland is unhappy, and it is changing.

The referendum was the brainchild of Thomas Minder. The independent legislator began his struggle to give shareholders in Swiss-listed companies the right to control the pay of executives and board members in 2006. The anger that turned him into the man many Swiss see as an avenging angel was sparked as long ago as 2001, when Swissair, the national airline, went bankrupt.…  Seguir leyendo »

The recent slaughter of Shiites in Pakistan is another grisly reminder of the perilous condition of its minorities. Indeed, in Pakistan and Indonesia, the two largest Muslim countries, both of which are in the midst of a fraught experiment with electoral democracy after decades of military rule, murderous assaults on Shiites, Christians and Ahmadis by majoritarian Sunni fanatics have become routine.

As a report last week by Human Right Watch claimed, the Indonesian government has shown a “deadly indifference to the growing plight of Indonesia’s religious minorities.” Political leaders in Pakistan, too, are guilty of the same.

Successful mass mobilizations against autocratic rule in Indonesia and Pakistan, followed by free elections, raised hopes of a new civil society.…  Seguir leyendo »

No parliament, no government, no president of the republic. And now not even a pope. The situation in Italy resembles a house of cards in a perfect storm.

It’s not just a matter of politicians, scenarios and furniture flying all over the place until the storm subsides. The problem is deeper than that. The new Italian Parliament has three minorities that are unable to form a majority. It is a power game in which Pier Luigi Bersani, the electoral winner, is the political loser, and the electoral losers, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and ex-comic Beppe Grillo, are the political winners.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian-politician, told you this was coming, but maybe you didn't take him seriously or still disdain the power of Twitter: Italy’s elections have produced deadlock, the news media are calling their country ungovernable, and the true victors are Grillo and his Five Star Movement.

His political tsunami has shaken Italian politics to the core and left the country facing months of instability and perhaps new elections, too.

Last night, having taken a quarter of the vote, Grillo chortled: “This is fantastic! We will be an extraordinary force,” and then announced he was off to bed with a cup of chamomile tea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Italy’s parliamentary election could not have gone worse for the country or the euro area.

It is now possible that in the coming months the currency zone’s third-largest economy will need a bailout from international creditors, at a time when Italy will have no government in place to ask for, or negotiate, a rescue. In case you had any doubts, the euro-area crisis is back.

As has so often been the case in Italy, the political gridlock has come in the Senate. Neither Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left coalition, nor the center-right led by Silvio Berlusconi managed to win a majority, in a political system where a government needs the support of both houses in order to get anything done.…  Seguir leyendo »

The life of Park Geun Hye, South Korea’s just-inaugurated first female president, has so far been bookended by two larger-than-life men of debatable success.

The first is her father, Park Chung Hee, the dictator who ruled the nation for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. The second is Lee Myung Bak, her predecessor who spent the last five years in the Blue House, Korea’s presidential residence, and a fellow member of her New Frontier Party.

Park must deal with their shortcomings in reverse. The immediate challenge is to be truer to her party’s name than Lee ever was. Lee left office this week with an approval rating in the 20s, an economy burdened by record household debt, a widening income gap, a strong currency that is hurting export competitiveness, relations with Japan frayed and North Korea raising hell around the globe.…  Seguir leyendo »

This past weekend, Jews celebrated Purim, the boisterous holiday that commemorates the escape by their forebears in Persia from certain annihilation.

The Scroll of Esther, which is read each Purim, recounts the unraveling of a genocidal plot initiated by the dyspeptic vizier Haman, who convinces his king, Ahasuerus, that a certain stiff-necked group should be expunged from his realm: “There is one nation scattered and dispersed among the nations throughout the provinces of your kingdom, whose laws are unlike those of any other nation and who do not obey the laws of the King. It is not in the King’s interest to tolerate them,” Haman tells Ahasuerus, according to the story.…  Seguir leyendo »

Negotiators from the world’s major powers sit down with Iran this week for more talks on its nuclear program, just weeks after North Korea tested another nuclear weapon.

If the connection between these two events isn’t obvious, it should be: North Korea’s nuclear saga is a cautionary tale for anyone attempting to bargain with the Islamic Republic.

Back in the 1980s, when suspicions were first raised about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s leadership was keen to distract attention with a show of clean hands. It joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, promised not to make the bomb and said it would report the whereabouts of all its nuclear material to international inspectors.…  Seguir leyendo »