The World on a Page

Article excerpt

Byline: Tunku Varadarajan

Blasphemous bloggers, cricket-loving Taliban--and a very vexed old Greek.

Spirit of Thermopylae

The spunk of ancient Sparta lives on in Greece. After Wolfgang Schauble, Germany's finance minister (and de facto FinMin of Greece), suggested publicly that the Greeks would have to postpone elections and install an unelected technocratic government, Greek President Karolos Papoulias lit up with indignation. "Who is Mr. Schauble to insult Greece? We have defended not only the freedom of our own country, but the freedom of Europe."

Dirty Dozen

As the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution calling for Bashar al-Assad to quit, 12 countries stood firm in their support of the Syrian panjandrum, voting against his ouster. They are, for the record: Russia, Iran, China, Venezuela, North Korea, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and ... Syria.

Oh, Brother

A spot of tension has broken out in the first family of the Maldives, where President Mohamed Waheed Hassan assumed power after a coup that ousted the country's first democratically elected president. Hassan's brother, a Maldivian diplomat in the U.K., resigned from his post with an angst-ridden declaration: "I say this to my brother--you are my brother and I will always love you. Do not rob our people of our right to choose our government."

Phrase of the Week

"Prosperous tyranny," deployed to describe China by Republican candidate Mitt Romney, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published during the visit to the U.S. of Xi Jinping, the next man in line to preside over said prosperous tyranny.

Backfiring Proverb Of the Week

"Let justice be done even if the world perishes," painted over the entrance to Comayagua Prison in Honduras, where more than 350 inmates perished in a fire from which--trapped behind bars--they had no escape. …