Until a few weeks ago, I’d met very few Americans who could name the prime minister of my homeland, Australia. But that was before John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight, on HBO, ran a short segment about him. Suddenly, Americans I met were joking about Tony Abbott, the social conservative best known for being photographed in Speedos and telling people to vote for him because his daughters are so good-looking. Oliver’s recurring segment, “Other Countries’ Presidents of the United States,” profiles various world leaders — France’s François Hollande has also received the Oliver treatment — and handles them with the same comic contempt with which the show treats American politicians.
The Great Debate
from Stories I’d like to see:
There are so many gaps in the reporting about the effort to use economic sanctions against Russia to get President Vladimir Putin to pull back support for the Ukraine separatists that it makes sense to devote my whole column this week to listing them.
Over the past two months, a series of mishaps at the CDC and NIH — involving mishandled anthrax, mislabeled influenza and misplaced smallpox — has alarmed the scientific community. The common theme surrounding all of them is human error.
All parents worry about whether they’re doing a good job, but few would want Uncle Sam’s opinion on the matter.
from Anatole Kaletsky:
With the stock market continuing to hit new highs almost daily despite the appalling geopolitical disasters and human tragedies unfolding in Ukraine, Gaza, Syria and Iraq, there has been much head-scratching about the baffling indifference among investors. Many economists and analysts see this apparent complacency as a symptom of a deeper malaise: an “irrational exuberance” that has pushed stock prices to absurdly overvalued levels.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the beloved romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally… Directed by Rob Reiner and written by the late, great Nora Ephron, the movie that gave us one of the most famous one-liners in Hollywood history — “I’ll have what she’s having” — has become a modern classic with good reason. It asks a question that is as relevant in 2014 as it was in 1989: Can men and women be “just” friends without, as Billy Crystal’s Harry put it, “the sex thing getting in the way”?
Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system is more like an iron sieve. It fails to destroy all but a few of the rockets that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups fire at Israeli communities. But Israel’s early-warning civil-defense systems have proved highly effective.RELATED COLUMNS
Uzi Rubin: Iron Dome is an ironclad success
You’ve got to hand it to the New York Times for its exposé of the plagiarism committed by Senator John Walsh (D-Mont.) in the paper he submitted for his 2007 master’s degree from the United States Army War College. Walsh, who spent more than three decades in Montana’s National Guard and won a Bronze Star after his 2004-5 tour of duty in Iraq, was appointed to the Senate in early 2014 and is now in a tough race for election to his seat. Montana Democrats have made much of Walsh’s military service. The Times’ accusation of plagiarism seriously threatens that narrative.