Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Lost in the thick soup of apologies, bluster, and tergiversation that comprised Rupert Murdoch’s testimony before the Leveson Inquiry into the ethics of the British press was a dark forecast by the man whose name is synonymous with unethical newspapers. Murdoch predicted the impending demise of print dailies “in a very complex world with disruptive technologies.” With the straightest of faces, he named government oversight of the press as the likeliest cause of death. “I think you have a danger of regulating, putting regulations in place which will mean there will be no press in 10 years to regulate … So when it comes to regulation, I just beg for some care.” The message, in plain English: Get off my back!
Little Master, M.P.
Until now, the only argument Indians have had over Sachin Tendulkar is whether he is the greatest cricketer ever to have played the game, or merely the greatest Indian cricketer. But with his nomination to the Rajya Sabha—the Indian parliament’s upper house—some of his fussier compatriots are asking what (if any) skills the batsman possesses that would equip him for a legislature. Tendulkar, known to the game’s followers as the “little master,” is a notably apolitical man. He will be the first active sportsman to sit in the upper house, a sedate institution when compared with the Lok Sabha, or lower house—where a bat would really have come in handy.
That’s the word the poli-sci brigade is muttering to itself in the wake of the nationalization of YPF, Argentina’s largest oil company, by Cristina Fernandez, the country’s president. “Corporatism”—the word used to describe the time when the government, big business, and organized labor were all in bed together—was a feature of Peronist Argentina, and “Evita” Fernandez’s seizure of YPF has revived the Peronist heart that had lain dormant in the national breast. Argentina’s neocorporatist nirvana has, however, a downside: an economic war with the European Union and Spain, one of whose companies, Repsol, was dispossessed of its majority stake in YPF. “Argentina has shot itself in the foot,” Spain’s foreign minister observed menacingly. “There will be consequences ... ”
For those wondering how low Bo Xilai’s stock could plummet, a new nadir was observed in The New York Times last week. Writing on the op-ed page, Chinese novelist Qiu Xiaolong recounted a story from his time at graduate school in Beijing, when Bo—the defenestrated head of the Communist Party in Chongqing—was his classmate. After a game of Ping-Pong, in which Qiu wielded his “red Double Happiness racket with exceptional speed and spin ... a tall [man] asked if he could borrow my premium racket, and I agreed.” The lanky fellow was Bo Xilai. He never returned the racket.
The International Hydrographic Organization, a technical outfit which oversees the naming of water bodies around the world, has voted to retain the name Sea of Japan for the maritime space between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. In doing so, it sank an emotional South Korean effort to rename the waters the “East Sea.” Seoul believes that the existing name smacks of Japanese colonialism, and the South Korean national anthem exhorts “God [to] protect and preserve our country ... until that day when ... the East Sea’s waters run dry.” At least the name lives on in song.
Till Death Do Us Part
For a few heady days, a story raced around the world that the Egyptian parliament would consider a law to permit a Muslim husband to have sex with his wife for up to six hours after her death. This prospect of Islamist necrophilia was too attractive for any of the Western news organizations that ran the story—the Daily Mail of London made particular tabloid hay of it—to bother checking whether it was true. It was not, the news being the invention of an Egyptian blogger with a mission to discredit the Muslim Brotherhood—a party, whose members may, while expressing their outrage, also ponder the question of why so many people were prepared to believe the rumor.