The outlook for the sale today of three- and nine-year bonds by the government of Portugal is still cloudy, but late-breaking news that Japan has committed to buy bonds from the European bailout fund and that the Portuguese deficit has actually declined in the face of self-imposed austerity measures may betoken a turnaround for Europe’s southwesternmost country.

When Governor Salman Taseer was murdered by his own bodyguard, “moderate Muslim” scholars in Pakistan greeted the assassination with cries of adulation. As was reported previously for The New American, a statement issued by the 500 scholars upheld the murder of the governor of Punjab as an example of Islamic justice in action; since Taseer sought to defend a Christian woman who had been unjustly sentenced to death for “blasphemy” against Islam, it was — they believed — only right that he be murdered as well. In the words of their statement: “The supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy.”

EUIn a November 16, 2010 speech, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy warned that the eurozone economic crisis threatened the very existence of the EU. “We’re in a survival crisis,” Van Rompuy said. “We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union.”

The civilizations of China and India are two of the oldest in human history. Archeologists have found Bronze Age Indian artifacts from about 3,300 B.C. in the Indus River Valley, and say that signs of human activity in India date back many thousand years before that. China is relatively younger, with the earliest signs of civilization about 4,000 years ago, and signs of human life many thousand years before that. 

German sociologist and political economist Max Weber once defined a state as an institution that “successfully upholds a claim on the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence in the enforcement of its order.” States, of course, prefer not to be thought of in such terms, so they generally couch their employment of force in less threatening phrases, such as “helping the poor” rather than “robbing the rich,” creating “collateral damage” rather than “murdering innocents,” or even (as Bill Clinton would have it) “accepting contributions” rather than “collecting taxes.” Let someone get in the state’s way, however, and the velvet glove comes off, revealing the iron fist underneath.