Krugman vs. Estonia: The opera

You may recall last June, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves went medieval on Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a Twitter tirade (Twirade?). Here's how it went down:

Let's write about something we know nothing about & be smug, overbearing & patronizing: after all, they're just wogs:

Guess a Nobel in trade means you can pontificate on fiscal matters & declare my country a "wasteland". Must be a Princeton vs Columbia thing [Ilves went to Columbia for undergrad.]

But yes, what do we know? We're just dumb & silly East Europeans. Unenlightened. Someday we too will understand. Nostra culpa.

Let's sh*t on East Europeans: their English is bad, won't respond & actually do what they've agreed to & reelect govts that are responsible.

Now apparently, the whole affair -- which really only lasted for an afternoon -- is getting turned into an opera. FT's Beyond Brics blog explains

Written by US composer Eugene Birman, it will be performed by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Risto Joost during Tallinn Music Week on April 7.

According to the libretto’s author, Scott Diel: “‘Nostra Culpa’ (Our Fault) is a short 16 minutes operatic piece which takes up the age-old economic disagreement of austerity vs. stimulus”. Keynes couldn’t have put it better himself.

As FT's Rob Minto points out, even 16 minutes feels a bit long for a four-tweet feud. John Adams had a bit more to work with for Nixon in China. But I'm still curious to hear how it will turn out -- and who will be the hero.


Carter Center: Guinea worm could make a comeback in Mali

One of the "Stories You Missed" we highlighted for 2012 was that the world is on the verge of eliminating Guinea worm -- a painful parasite that was once prevalent throughout Africa and southern Asia -- but has been reduced to just a few hundred cases in four African countries.

But former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose center has been at the forefront of efforts to eradicate the disease since the 1980s, warns that the violence in Mali may be complicating the final push to eliminate the disease:

In rebel-held areas of northern Mali, teams that remove worms and teach villagers how to protect their drinking water have been unable to operate since April, Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben, head of Guinea worm eradication for the Carter Center, said during a video news conference with Mr. Carter.

Mali had only seven of the world’s 542 confirmed cases in 2012, but three of them were detected in Niger among refugees from Mali, which suggests that the disease is spreading.

“We have no good sense of what the real case count is,” Dr. Ruiz-Tiben said. In 2006, he said, one infected student walked 250 miles north to the northern Kidal region of Mali and started an outbreak that spread worms to at least 400 others.

Polio, the other disease that along with Guinea worm is closest to eradication, has also received an unfortunate assist from political violence.