The World on a Page

By Varadarajan, Tunku | Newsweek, January 23, 2012 | Go to article overview

The World on a Page


Varadarajan, Tunku, Newsweek


Byline: Tunku Varadarajan

Gay spies, bankers' wives, banned underwear ... and an independent Scotland.

Political put-down of the week: "Viktator," chanted by crowds in Budapest protesting the increasingly obnoxious government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Time for a Hungarian Spring?

Space cadet: Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russia's rocket scientists, has suggested that America is zapping Russian satellites because they tend to disappear "when they are flying above the part of Earth that's in a shadow zone for Russia." Poor Popovkin needs a scapegoat: his agency has lost five sats in 13 months.

Naked tyranny: Impoverished Zimbabweans buy secondhand underwear so as to save money for such fripperies as food. Yet Tendai Biti, the finance minister, detected in this desperate frugality an affront to national honor. His solution? To ban the import of "secondhand undergarments of any type, form or description, whether purchased, donated or procured in any other manner."

What's Urdu for 'Byzantine'? Pakistani politics, ever impenetrable, have scaled new peaks of convolution: the chief justice of the Supreme Court, doing the Army chief's bidding, wants the prime minister to charge the president with corruption. The P.M. has refused and has fired his defense minister instead, daring the Army chief to put up or shut up. The Army chief has ... oh, never mind.

He's come out ... of jail: Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's opposition leader, who'd been on trial for sodomy for two years (including solitary confinement), was acquitted of charges widely agreed to be bogus. Is Malaysia, at last, burying the uncouth ghost of Mahathir Mohamad?

The world's most endangered nerds: Iranian nuclear scientists, one of whom was killed by a bomb on his morning commute in Tehran. …

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