A Mogul Takes a Hit
1 | U.K.
Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run a major international company. So proclaimed a May 1 report published by the British parliamentary committee tasked with interrogating the News Corp. head and his myriad executives. Among its assertions: that Murdoch exhibited "willful blindness" during the phone-hacking scandal that shuttered his British tabloid News of the World. Although the damning rhetoric spawned global headlines and prompted an American watchdog group to lobby the FCC to revoke Murdoch's Fox broadcast licenses in the U.S., it's unclear if the report will have a lasting impact. Dissenting committee members--all Conservatives--quickly spoke out against it, calling certain aspects "partisan" and undercutting the findings. News Corp.'s board, meanwhile, announced a unanimous vote of confidence for the embattled chief.
2 | FRANCE
President Nicolas Sarkozy's re-election hopes took another hit when far-right leader Marine Le Pen (above) refused to endorse him in the May 6 second-round runoff against Socialist challenger Franois Hollande. Le Pen, who scored the biggest surprise of the first round by claiming nearly 18% of the vote, vowed to cast a blank ballot and told her supporters to vote their consciences. Sarkozy has tried to pander to Le Pen's constituency, intensifying his rhetoric about the dangers of Islam and immigration. But as Hollande and Sarkozy dueled in the one and only debate of the campaign May 2, surveys showed the unpopular President is likely headed for defeat.
An Empty Peace, in Pieces
3 | SYRIA
A short-lived U.N.-brokered truce between the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels seeking his overthrow disintegrated as both sides flouted its terms. Government tanks and heavy weaponry remained deployed in some cities, while insurgent fighters launched repeated strikes on state security forces. A dawn ambush near the northern city of Aleppo killed some 15 Syrian soldiers, while suicide bombers struck government locations in the capital, Damascus. (The opposition denied any role in the blasts, though fears are growing over the prevalence of Islamist extremists in the rebel ranks.) Human-rights observers claim that the death toll after a year of unrest stands at more than 11,000. A team of U.N. monitors admitted into the country by the Assad regime has struggled to keep an eye--let alone a lid--on all the violence. And a report by U.S.-based Human Rights Watch accused Assad's forces of committing war crimes.
'Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it.'
CLIVE PALMER, Australian mining magnate, joking about his recent shipbuilding commission: a luxury superliner modeled after the ill-fated Titanic, which sank in 1912. The Titanic II, as Palmer calls it, is expected to set sail in 2016--presumably with ample safety features
In the Weeds
4 | AFGHANISTAN