The World on a Page
Varadarajan, Tunku, Newsweek
Byline: Tunku Varadarajan
Negligent prime ministers, dancing princes--and an irate Frenchwoman.
That Sinking Feeling
For passionate Pacific Islanders, the people of Kiribati are displaying impressive sang-froid. Destined to disappear undersea as a result of climate change, the atoll nation is making arrangements for the day when it will exist only in out-of-date atlases. Kiribati's government intends to purchase 6,000 acres in Fiji--a land blessed with less precarious sea levels, and, clearly, a very accommodating people--on which to relocate Kiribati's entire population of 103,000. The projected date for the change of address: 2062.
The former prime minister of Iceland, Geir Haarde, is on trial in Reykjavik on charges of criminal negligence in his handling of the country's economy, which disintegrated in 2008 with the collapse of the country's main commercial banks. Haarde, who faces time in prison if convicted, sees himself as a recession martyr, describing his conscience as "clear" and his prosecution as "politically motivated" and "preposterous."
'We have too many foreigners in France'
Thus quipped Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the French Republic, in a recent television interview. A quiz for readers: Sarkozy's own ancestors have their roots in: (a) Calais (b) Carcassonne (c) Neuilly-sur-Seine, or (d) Hungary? Answers on a postcard to the Elysee Palace, 55 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, 75008 Paris, France. (Tel.: 33-1-42-92-8100)
Alien vs. Predator
The U.S. Supreme Court is taking a skeptical look at the Alien Tort statute, enacted in 1789, which courts have said allows a foreigner to sue another foreigner in the U.S. for rights violations committed on foreign soil. The law had lain dormant for nearly 200 years--until 1980, when a Paraguayan citizen brought successful suit in the U.S. against his Paraguayan police torturer for pain inflicted in Paraguay. …