“España No Es Uganda”
Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s normally understated prime minister, caused a major stink when he texted a short message to his finance minister, minutes before the latter embarked on final negotiations on the Spanish bailout. In the text, Rajoy encouraged him to “Hang in there,” adding, somewhat superciliously, that “Spain is not Uganda.” After the text found its way to gleeful newspapers, there were howls from Spaniards, many of whom found his words “racist,” “colonialist,” and the like. Ugandans were indignant too. One (@TMS Ruge) tweeted: “Dear Rajoy, you’re right. Spain is not Uganda. Spain’s GDP growth is negative. Uganda’s ... is 5.2%.”
Boris Johnson, the first stand-up comic to be elected mayor of a major city, had America in stitches on a recent visit to New York. Appearing on The Daily Show with the equally entertaining Jon Stewart, London’s boss offered his city as a refuge to New Yorkers facing a civic ban on supersized sodas. “This is a very difficult thing,” Johnson lamented. “What I will say is that refugees from the soda tyranny in New York will have sanctuary in London.” (This caused his host, Stewart, to observe that “London would be the Amsterdam of Mountain Dew.”) Johnson, the most popular Conservative politician in Britain, is tipped by many to be the next prime minister, a prospect he scoffs at: “As I never tire of saying,” he said, tirelessly, “my chances of becoming prime minister are only slightly better than being decapitated by a Frisbee ...”
Thirty-two years after her infant, Azaria, disappeared from a remote campsite at Ayers Rock in Australia, Lindy Chamberlain has finally got the vindication for which she fought so tenaciously. In a story that acquired international notoriety—and which was made into an acclaimed film starring Meryl Streep—Chamberlain had claimed that a dingo had taken Azaria from her tent, only for a court to convict chamberlain of her own child’s murder. Although she was eventually acquitted, the coroner’s “open” verdict continued to haunt her. Last week, after a fourth inquest, Chamberlain got what she sought: a clearing of her name, and a ruling that a dingo did it.
All at Sea
As momentum gathers in Washington for the U.S. to ratify the international Law of the Sea Treaty—which gives the U.N. a stake in mineral resources on the deep seabed while also protecting navigational rights in ways that cheer the U.S. Navy—Donald Rumsfeld has come out swinging against the global compact. Writing on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, the former defense secretary invoked the name of Ronald Reagan, president when the treaty was concluded and also, at the time, its most pugnacious opponent. Rumsfeld’s op-ed comes in the wake of one by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice—also in the Journal—calling for the treaty’s ratification. Expect a question on the subject at the American presidential debates.
Headline of the Week
First prize to the Financial Times, for the marriage of earnestness and improbability in this headline: “Niger Warns of Global Threat From Mali Crisis.” The story is built around an interview with Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger’s president, who fears that “If [al Qaeda] establish a territory in Mali, they will try to claim territory across the whole of west Africa and they will try to reach into Europe.” All this, he broods darkly, is nothing less than “the ‘Afghanization’ of the Sahel.”
Angry Young Man
“I’ll drop-kick a begging gypsy—for scamming people, selling drugs and stealing. I’ll spit into a prostitute’s face. I’ll mace a bum for stinking up the place and spreading disease ...” These words are typical of blog posts by Alexander Bosykh, 33, who has been appointed head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Youth Affairs. Bosykh won national infamy in March, when he was caught on camera punching a female opposition protester. “All you have to do is tap some lesbian on the head and suddenly everyone knows everything about you,” he fumed after the incident.