Spirit of Thermopylae
The spunk of ancient Sparta lives on in Greece. After Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister (and de facto FinMin of Greece), suggested publicly that the Greeks would have to postpone elections and install an unelected technocratic government, Greek President Karolos Papoulias lit up with indignation. “Who is Mr. Schäuble to insult Greece? We have defended not only the freedom of our own country, but the freedom of Europe.”
As the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution calling for Bashar al-Assad to quit, 12 countries stood firm in their support of the Syrian panjandrum, voting against his ouster. They are, for the record: Russia, Iran, China, Venezuela, North Korea, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and ... Syria.
A spot of tension has broken out in the first family of the Maldives, where President Mohamed Waheed Hassan assumed power after a coup that ousted the country’s first democratically elected president. Hassan’s brother, a Maldivian diplomat in the U.K., resigned from his post with an angst-ridden declaration: “I say this to my brother—you are my brother and I will always love you. Do not rob our people of our right to choose our government.”
Phrase of the Week
“Prosperous tyranny,” deployed to describe China by Republican candidate Mitt Romney, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published during the visit to the U.S. of Xi Jinping, the next man in line to preside over said prosperous tyranny.
Backfiring Proverb Of the Week
“Let justice be done even if the world perishes,” painted over the entrance to Comayagua Prison in Honduras, where more than 350 inmates perished in a fire from which—trapped behind bars—they had no escape.
Carlos Pérez Barriga, owner of El Universo, an Ecuadoran paper under attack by President Rafael Correa, was granted asylum by Panama. The newspaperman, who was sentenced to three years in jail and a $40 million fine for publishing an editorial calling the president a dictador, is now holed up in the Panamanian Embassy in Quito. His two brothers, facing like sentences, have fled Ecuador, as has Emilio Palacio, the opinion-page editor, who is in the U.S.
As the Afghan cricket team prepared to play a match against Pakistan, it received a message of support from an unlikely quarter. Putting aside qualms about cricket being un-Islamic, the Tali-ban informed the players that they would be present in their prayers. The team lost but basked in a rare moment of Afghan harmony: President Hamid Karzai phoned in his support, too.
Remember the name of this young Saudi blogger, who faces a possible death sentence for blasphemy—for tweeting about an imagined conversation he’d had with Prophet Muhammad on the prophet’s birthday. Facing calls for his blood by angry counter-tweeters, the 23-year-old fled to Kuala Lumpur. The supine Malaysian government put him back on a plane to Riyadh.
The last issue of Newsweek International was denied to Malaysian readers by censors who adjudged the reproduction of paintings by Egyptian artist Weaam El-Masry to be too risqué. An overreaction? Draw your own conclusion.