The Man from Merkel
Nicolas Sarkozy became the first French leader since Marshal Pétain to be propped up, unembarrassed, by his German counterpart. Sarko, trailing badly in pre-election polls, had Angela Merkel campaign for him, exhorting French voters to stand by her man. One can only imagine the froideur at the first Franco-German summit after the election if François Hollande, Sarkozy’s opponent, wins.
Fabio Capello resigned as manager of England’s soccer team in protest over the English Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy for a “racially aggravated public order offence.” Terry is alleged to have called another footballer a “f--king black c--t.” The gravamen of the charge isn’t the sexual ruderies, but the word in between, “black.” (There are several b---k players on the team.)
The group Anonymous has hacked into the emails of Nashi, the pro-Putin youth organization, revealing amounts paid to numerous pro-Putin journalists for pro-Putin pieces. By far the highest rate was charged by the photographer/blogger Ilya Varlamov, until now thought to be a friend of the opposition. He has one of the largest blog followings in Russia and allegedly received 400,000 rubles ($13,300) from Nashi for just two short posts. Nice work if you can get it.
Josefina Vázquez Mota, the first woman to run for the Mexican presidency, is a long way behind in the polls. But she’s getting a boost from an unlikely quarter: the frontrunner himself. In a newspaper interview, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party was unable to recall how much tortillas (which Mexicans eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) cost. Peña Nieto compounded his elitist sin by saying, by way of excuse, “I’m not the lady of the house.” Will the presidency turn on the tortilla?
Too Close to the Sun?
Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who soared to fame for his prosecution of Augusto Pinochet, was brought down to earth with a thud by his country’s Supreme Court, which debarred him from practice for 11 years for abusing his judicial authority. His supporters claim that the left-wing Garzón is a victim of persecution by conservatives. To his critics—who loathed his hounding of Pinochet and his attempts to reopen Franco-era crimes—Garzón was Icarus. He flew too high.
When the Maldives’ President Mohamed Nasheed held an underwater cabinet meeting in the Arabian Sea three years ago—his ministers all in scuba regalia—to highlight the vulnerability of his archipelagic country to inundation, he can’t have imagined that his political water would one day get much deeper. Last week, he was forced to quit at gunpoint, replaced in office by his deputy. The new president, it is alleged, has the backing of Nasheed’s predecessor–a man who neither snorkeled nor believed, unduly, in democracy.
Thrift Über Alles
Germany’s exports have topped the trillion-euro mark for the first time, and anyone seeking clues to German economic resilience need look no further than Hans Feldmeier, an 87-year-old pensioner who was in the news for opening and eating a tin of lard he’d received in 1948 as part of U.S. relief rations. “I just didn’t want to throw it away,” he explained, adding that he’d kept the tin for “emergencies.” Can one imagine a Greek man saving a tin of lard for 64 years?
Britain celebrated the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession. On a public visit, Her Majesty was given the usual flowers, after which the little boy who’d presented them reached behind his back for something else. While bodyguards froze, the lad produced a bag of toffees for Prince Philip—who so seldom gets a present. It may be the best present the prince has had in 60 years.