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Every World Cup needs a villain, and Uruguay’s Luis Suárez must have been the pre-tournament bookmakers’ favourite to fill the role. Now he has obliged, for the second World Cup running. In 2010 he did it by saving a last-minute Ghanaian shot with his hands. He was sent off, but Ghana missed the subsequent penalty, and Uruguay went on to the semifinal.
On Tuesday the apparent bite he took out of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini provided possibly the first iconic moment of this World Cup. Fifa’s disciplinary committee has yet to give its verdict, but the vast majority of global non-Uruguayan opinion seems to believe it was a bite. Jim Boyle, head of Fifa’s refereeing committee, told British TV: “Once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism.” Once again Suárez’s personal dysfunction is being displayed before the world, and once again he has only his compatriots to defend him. Read more
Leaked tapes of expletive-filled conversations involving senior Polish ministers are extremely embarrassing to the government in Warsaw and to some of its leading figures, such as Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister (above). And that, presumably, is exactly the intention.
Amidst all the uproar, relatively few people seem to be asking who would have the resources and expertise to expertly bug several Warsaw restaurants – over the course of a year – and then the motivation to release the tapes. The obvious answer, based entirely on circumstantial evidence, would be Russia’s intelligence service. Read more
First it was Joe Hockey, Australia’s treasurer, who was snapped chomping Cuban cigars as he drafted the country’s harshest budget in 20 years. He was later challenged for dancing to the song “This will be the best day of my life” in his office before delivering a hair-shirt address to parliament.
Now it is the turn of Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, who has been caught winking and smiling during a radio phone-in show as he talked to a grandmother who admitted she has resorted to working on telephone sex lines to make ends meet.
The television footage of Mr Abbott’s cheeky wink went quickly viral on the internet on Wednesday, prompting aides to suggest he was merely signalling to the presenter that he was alright to take the question. But for a leader who has already been accused of being a misogynist by his critics, the damage was done. The Green Party has now added “creep” to the growing list of jibes thrown at Mr Abbott. Read more
It could be entitled: how not to get people to vote.
The Danish parliament on Tuesday pulled a controversial video replete with cartoon nudity that was meant to encourage young people to vote in this month’s elections for the European Parliament.
The 90-second video features “Voteman”, a muscleman first seen in bed with five naked women who then proceeds to beat up young people to force them to vote. He then decapitates one man, interrupting a couple having sex to throw them and their bed out of a window, and using his dolphin to help him chuck people into voting booths.
Morgen Lykketoft, speaker of Folketinget, the Danish parliament, had previously warmly endorsed the video. “We are trying to inspire the very young to go out and vote. It is important we get a higher turnout, especially among the young. You have to use all sorts of methods,” he told state radio on Monday.
He added: “I think it’s rather innocent. You can find much worse.”
A day later – and following a social media storm that had derided the sexist and violent nature of the video – Mr Lykketoft had repented. Read more
James Packer, son of the late media magnate Kerry, and his old mate and best man David Gyngell on Sunday took their 35-year friendship to a physical level when – in true Aussie fashion – they slugged it out on a Bondi street outside the billionaire’s residence.
Local media have widely quoted tweets from Chris Walker, a Sydney resident who witnessed the brouhaha: Read more
How do we decide what matters in the world?
The question is prompted by the coincidence of the crisis in Ukraine and the third anniversary of the outbreak of war in Syria.
There is no doubt that it is Ukraine that is dominating the attention of world leaders and the media. John Kerry, US secretary of state, is meeting Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, in London today to discuss Ukraine, while Angela Merkel has been working the phones with Vladimir Putin to try to defuse the crisis.
The front-pages of newspapers blare about the build-up of troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border. My own work has reflected these priorities, with my last three FT columns on the Ukrainian crisis.
But are we right to be so focused on Ukraine rather than Syria? Read more
What can you trust in China these days? An investigative journalist who says a well-known company has allegedly been manipulating its financial results? Or the company that denies that point blank? How about a police force that crosses provincial lines to arrest the “offending” journalist on suspicion of damaging that company’s commercial reputation?
Above all, can we now trust the confession of the journalist – paraded on state TV with head shaved and in handcuffs – admitting that he was paid to falsify those stories? Read more
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been at the UN in New York all this week, opening up the possibility of engagement with the US over Tehran’s nuclear programme. One of the most striking features of his performance is the way he has used different settings to push forward different messages about how he views the world.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Rouhani took what sounded like a very traditional Iranian line. It may have had none of the apocalyptic and offensive rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, on such occasions. But the speech contained plenty of passages which implied a strong attack on America’s “coercive economic and military policies.” Many experts were disappointed that it failed to deviate from Iran’s traditional script.
Mr Rouhani has also found plenty of time, however, to meet US media, and here his tone has been very different. With CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, he read out a message in English of goodwill towards Americans.
Flying back from JFK airport just before the new year, I picked up the latest – and last – edition of Newsweek. The cover has a photo of the old Newsweek building in Manhattan and proclaims – “Last Print Issue”. For a print journalist, the phrase “last print” anything, has an unpleasant ring to it.
I also have more personal reasons to feel sad about the passing of Newsweek. I was a subscriber for about five years in the 1970s. Growing up in London, it was Newsweek that introduced me to the mysteries and excitements of American politics – and was my guide to everything from Watergate to the rise and fall of Jimmy Carter. Maybe it is nostalgia speaking, but I remember Newsweek as a great magazine: tightly written, brilliantly reported and illustrated. Read more
Here’s what piqued our interest today: