Don’t Mess With Turkey: No longer self-effacing supplicants when it comes to relations with the U.S., the Turks seldom let an American insult go unchallenged. After Rick Perry described Turkey’s government as “Islamic terrorists,” Ankara struck back with dignified finesse, observing that the Texas governor’s pasting in the primaries reflected “the common sense of the U.S. electorate.” (A leading Turkish columnist opted for old-fashioned Anatolian simplicity, calling Perry “an idiot.”)
Hideous Word of the Week: “Thaksinization,” of which Thailand’s P.M., Yingluck Shinawatra, stands accused. Opponents charge that her reshuffled cabinet contains too many cronies of her disgraced brother, Thaksin. The solution? De-Thaksinization, of course.
Godzilla versus Mothra: Starring Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky. The former business partners’ courtroom death match in London has drawn to a close after three months and tens of millions in fees to lip-smacking lawyers. At stake: $6.8 billion, which Berezovsky claims Abramovich pinched from him. Whatever the outcome, both billionaires have slung so much mud that neither will emerge with his reputation unbesmirched.
Scary Question of the Week: “What if the Iranians start killing scientists?”—posed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz by Avner Cohen, a sage sort of worrywart at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. “Anyone who legitimizes the assassination of scientists in Tehran,” he warns, “jeopardizes the personal security of scientists on the other side. The next phase of the assassination war is liable to turn international scientific conferences into arenas of assassination.”
The ‘Forever’ Fatwa: Salman Rushdie canceled his appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival after Islamist hardliners in India—self-appointed custodians of Muslim “sentiments”—threatened to kill him if he attended. No guarantee of protection for the world’s best-known blasphemer was forthcoming from the gutless state government of Rajasthan, nor even from the Indian government.
Yacht She, or Yachtn’t She? The only public tear Queen Elizabeth has ever shed was on bidding adieu to the royal yacht Britannia, decreed by Tony Blair in 1997 to be too posh for Cool Britain. Suggestions that a replacement be built as a Diamond Jubilee “thank you” present from a grateful nation were howled down by the Opposition. In truth, Her Maj isn’t very expensive. She costs a lot less to move around than a U.S. president, and on foreign travel insists on taking with her only some marmalade, Malvern water, tea, and her own pillows.
Verbal Grace Under Pressure: A citation this week for François Baroin, the French finance minister, who coolly described his country’s ratings downgrade by S&P as no more than a “demi-surprise.”
Arianna en Francais: Anne Sinclair—Mrs. DSK—was appointed editorial director of a new French spinoff of the Huffington Post, a publication that does to writers what her husband is reputed to do to hotel chambermaids.
Snub of the Week (How to Break a Blogger’s Heart): Dilma Rousseff took office pledging to alter Brazil’s see-no-evil diplomacy. Heartened, Yoani Sánchez, a Cuban dissident blogger, has written to Rousseff to ask the Castro regime to lift an exit ban and let her visit Brazil. Sánchez, barred from leaving Cuba since 2004, has had no reply. (The Brazilian president’s office told Newsweek that it has not received her letter.)