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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Indian Supreme Court Upholds Gay Sex Ban

The Indian Supreme Court overturned on Wednesday a 2009 decision by the high court in Delhi that had repealed a colonial law defining same-sex relation as “unnatural”, effectively criminalising gay sex in the country once again and making it punishable by a 10-year jail sentence. The two-judge bench decided that only the country’s parliament could change the law. “Today is a great day for prejudice and inhumanity and a bad day for law and love. But law develops and love is resilient and prejudice will be beaten back. I wasn’t a criminal yesterday but today I certainly am. And I propose to continue being a criminal. But I do not propose to ask the permission of their lordships when deciding who to love and whom to make love to”, said the author Vikram Seth in an interview with the NDTV news channel.

Uruguay Legalises Marijuana

The Senate of Uruguay approved by 16-13 votes on Tuesday the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana. The legislation states that consumers will be able to buy a maximum of 40 grammes pr month from licensed pharmacies, but only Uruguayans who are over 18 and registered on a government database will be able to make purchases. The citizens of the country will also be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, generating at most 480 grammes per year, or form smoking cubs of up to 45 members that can grow 99 plants per year. Sources heard by El Observador, a Uruguayan newspaper, believe that monitoring plants being grown privately would be “practically impossible”, given that those who chose to grow their own supply will not want to be in the consumers’ registry or become a part of a smoking club.

Putin Instructs Military to Boost Arctic Presence

In a clear reprisal to Canada’s stated aim of claiming the North Pole, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that his country would make the Arctic a priority, “intensifying the development of this promising region”. Speaking at the expanded meeting of Russia’s Defence Ministry Board, Putin ordered his officials to form new military units and create new infrastructure in the Arctic next year. Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said that “there are plans to create a group of troops and forces to ensure military security and protection of the Russian Federation’s national interests in the Arctic in 2014″, including restarting operations in the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Another member of the board, Senator Artur Chilinganov, a former polar explorer, suggested reviving the Academy of Sciences’ Polar Commission, which was shut down in 1936.

Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs Sent Life to Mars

US researchers believe that the asteroid that hit Earth and killed the dinosaurs may have ejected rocks large enough from the planet’s surface to transfer life to nearly all of the planets in the Solar System. “We find that rock capable of carrying life has likely transferred from both Earth and Mars to all of the terrestrial planets in the solar system and Jupiter. Any missions to search for life on Titan or the moons of Jupiter will have to consider whether biological material is of independent origin, or another branch in Earth’s family tree”, says Rachel Worth, a researcher at Penn State University and lead author of the study published in the Astrobiology journal. “I’d be surprised if life hasn’t gotten to Mars. It’s beyond the scope of our study. But it seems reasonable that at some point Earth organisms have made it over there”, she told BBC News.

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