On April 30 the Boston Globe journalist Charlie Savage wrote an article whose contents become more astonishing the more one reads them. Over the past five years, Savage reported, President George W Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws that have been enacted by the United States Congress since he took office.
The soccer World Cup fills me with dread. I want to look, but also to look away. Not because I don't like football. I do. Not because I'm fussed about the St George flag. I'm all for it. Nor am I in any liberal confusion about wanting England to win. I want that too. Not even because I can't stand the hysteria: Why can't we have a commentary-free channel that just shows the games?
If the great history lesson of the 20th century is that socialism does not work, then the watershed event in that tragic enlightenment was the one that took place in Moscow 50 years ago this month -- the so-called ''secret speech'' delivered by Nikita Khrushchev to a closed session of the 20th congress of the Soviet Communist Party on February 25 1956.
A crisis? Sure. But which one and whose? As the results sank in on Sunday, the clever men in suits on France's TV5 reeled off plenty to choose from: a European crisis; a domestic crisis; a crisis of legitimacy; a crisis of institutions. But the real crisis is in Paris. The detail of France's 55%-45% verdict on the European Union constitution is illuminating.
Watching and listening to Bush in Brussels this week it was impossible not to see that this is a very different politician from the one who was taped by Doug Wead as he weighed his first run for the White House in the late 1990s. ''It's me versus the world,'' the then Texas governor told Wead. ''The good news is, the world is on my side. Or more than half of it anyway.''
Among the half a million demonstrators peacefully thronging the streets of Manhattan last Sunday, the verdict against George W Bush was instantly familiar to any visiting European. He's dumb, he's dangerous, he's divisive -- and more. In the face of such anger, it is hard not to be awed yet anxious because it was another reminder of the ways in which this is becoming an ever more divided society.