Let Them Eat Foie Gras

In Italy, it’s Deutschland über alles.

Heil Merkel!

As Germany’s lock on the euro proves unbreakable, others in the currency union have scarcely any way, besides a resort to petulant World War metaphors, to voice their opposition to Berlin. And so it came to pass that a newspaper controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, splashed the words “Quarto Reich” (or “Fourth Reich”) across its front page above a photograph of the German chancellor raising her hand in a gesture that could—after a few glasses of grappa—be seen to resemble a wan Nazi salute. “Two world wars and millions of dead,” railed the article in Il Giornale, “are not enough to quiet German egomania.” The Germans, the newspaper continues, believe the euro is “theirs, and we have to submit, surrender, hand over ourselves to the new Kaiser Angela Merkel, who wants to rule in our own house.” (The Daily Mail, Britain’s most euro-skeptic newspaper, has pointed out that this isn’t the first time Il Giornale has been beastly to Merkel. After Italy defeated Germany in this year’s soccer Euro Cup, the Italian paper ran her picture beneath the headline “Ciao Ciao Culona”—which the Mail translates, helpfully, as “Bye-Bye Lard Arse.”)

Going Rogue

A little-known regulator has made a bid for prosecutorial glory by slapping Standard Chartered—Britain’s fifth-largest bank—with charges that it engaged in (and then hid) financial dealings with Iran that total $250 billion. In language that a Financial Times editorial described as “the verbal equivalent of a perp walk,” Benjamin Lawsky, the head of New York’s Department of Financial Services, called Standard Chartered a “rogue” bank and accused it of “dealings that indisputably helped sustain a global threat to peace and stability.” He also ordered bank officials to appear in his office Wednesday. Lawsky’s assault earned him a rebuke from Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, as well as from Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, who wrote, “You can’t help thinking it might actually be at least partly motivated by jealousy of London’s financial sector—a simple desire to knock a rival center.” None of this, however, was as blunt as an apparently incriminating line attributed to a Standard Chartered executive: “You f--king Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with the Iranians?”

Liberal Infidel

imran-khan-ovnb40 Imran Khan: Who’s afraid of the Taliban? Asif Hassan, AFP / Getty Images

“A man of faith doesn’t fear death,” tweeted Imran Khan defiantly to his thousands of followers Thursday, after the Taliban threatened to kill him if he proceeded with a “peace caravan” through Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Khan, a former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, is today an opposition politician challenging for the post of prime minister. Although many Pakistani liberals call him “Taliban Khan”—on account of his fundamentalist Muslim views and his implacable hostility toward the American presence in Afghanistan—the Taliban itself, ironically, abhors him as a “liberal” and an “infidel” (he had a particularly rollicking sex life before he found God and politics). Although Khan’s march is intended as a protest against American drone strikes that have (in his words) “destroyed millions of lives of FATA people,” a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban warned that “if [Imran Khan] comes out, suicide bombers will target him.” Khan’s response? “Every man in the tribal areas is a warrior and carries a gun. We will be using them to protect us.”

Goose Step

Apprehensive that California’s ban on foie gras could lead to copycat proscriptions in other squeamish American states, François Hollande has promised French farmers that he will throw his presidential heft behind an advocacy campaign for the delectable goose-liver pâté. “Foie gras is a great French product which honors the farmers who devote their lives to it,” he declared. “I will not allow any challenge to [its] exports, from certain countries or from certain American states.” His first defensive step: to send American politicians gift hampers of foie gras, “for their own great enjoyment.”

With Luke Kerr-Dineen

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