From the Dec. 8, 1908, edition of the New York Times:

“Blacks can’t rule, Taft tells south”

That’s a pretty big leap to make in just a century … sometimes, I’m right proud of our country.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

On Oct. 27, 1984, a headline on Page 14A in The Plain Dealer read: “Disgusted judge gives repeat offender 30 years for rape.”

The story followed standard newspaper protocol: In it, the victim was anonymous.

In this version, the victim has a name. I am Joanna Connors, and I am telling the story I kept private for 23 years. I’m doing it for all of the others who have survived sexual assault in silence, ashamed and afraid to tell their stories

Such an interesting story and compelling presentation — and a testament to the continuing power of the stodgy old “mainstream media.”

The Times of India reports that activists in Tamil Nadu are trying to press charges against Bollywood sex bomb Mallika Sherawat for showing up to a red-carpet event in skimpy attire.

A glimpse of the crazy:

[A] splinter group … lodged a complaint with the police on Thursday, saying that Mallika’s attire at the function to release audio-CDs of Kamal Hassan’s new film Dasavatharam in which Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Jackie Chan and Amitabh Bachchan were present had “hurt the sentiments of Hindus.” The actress was accused of wearing transparent and skimpy clothes … activist Kanirajan, in his complaint, also said Mallika sat cross-legged on the dais where Karunanidhi was present.

Cross-legged! The horror, the horror! Imagine if she hadn’t been so circumspect and pulled a bit of the classic Britney magic

Joking aside, my thoughts, in no particular order: 1) damn, she looks good; she might as well capitalize on her looks while she has them; 2) is contemporary Hinduism really so fragile that a bit of leg could threaten the very core of its philosophy?; 3) if Jackie Chan hadn’t been present, would it still have been such a gaffe?; 4) is women’s sexuality so threatening that men must try and outlaw it and/or shame those bold enough to revel in their fecundity?; and 5) seriously, don’t these fellas have better things to do?

And, for your entertainment, the trailer for Dasavatharam:

Description extracted from a Providence Journal profile of Jhumpa Lahiri, whose third book (Unaccustomed Earth, another tome of short stories) recently came out. Every profile of her seems to center on either her ethnicity (Bengali) or on her calm demeanor in the face of what some explain as a chaotic family life (how does she do it, kids chorusing in the background as she pens her prize-winning pieces?).

womens-mariachi-band.jpg

From the New York Times: “A Women’s Mariachi Band Sings Its Way Across Traditional Male Turf.

I don’t normally turn to the Times for my pop culture news, but I found “Boys Will Be Boys, Girls Will Be Hounded by the Media” a rather interesting take on the media circus surrounding Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Paris Hilton, and the like — as well as the noted lack of said circus around men spiraling out of control.

Interesting story on the recent introduction of vending machines for female condoms in Delhi. I question some of the figures reported — for example, they estimate that 300,000 teenage abortions take place in the city every year, which, without more information/better sourcing, seems suspiciously high — but regardless of faulty reportage, NDTV certainly sparks contemplation of the changing face of sexuality in India.

HBO is premiering In Treatment tonight, but for my money, pop culture best explored psychiatry in Comedy Central’s Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. Early reviews aren’t promising — here’s a slice of Slate’s take:

Adapted from an Israeli drama titled BeTipul, In Treatment (HBO, weeknights at 9:30 p.m. ET) follows Paul Weston, a psychotherapist played by Gabriel Byrne with the kind of conviction that can only come from an actor faced with ambitious hogwash. The show’s controlling gimmick dictates that it will air nightly for the next nine weeks, with Paul keeping regular appointments with the same patients each night of the week, except for Fridays, when he goes to see Dianne Wiest’s Dr. Toll, the Kupferberg to his Melfi. His nonadventures straddle the realms of the scarcely credible and the incredibly boring.

Another recent show exploiting the fragile mental state of fellow man is Celebrity Rehab. Must we, really, ogle people going through withdrawal? Is it really so fascinating to listen to their stories of broken homes, broken lives, and feed into their vainglorious attempts for one more shot at fame, succeeding only in pandering to the lowest common denominator?

Witness Times Private Treaties, a hideous sham of a venture by which advertisers buy space in the Times of India, and TOI, in turn, buys a stake in the company doing the advertising, all in the name of synergy and profits and whatnot.

As Indian media watchdog The Hoot notes, “The more competitive the media business gets, the more inventive media houses become. And it becomes more of a headache to track the ethical dimensions and conflict of interest possibilities that emerge.” The newspaper industry in the subcontinent may be flourishing, but it’s certainly not without its discontents.