Jacques Chirac left an EU meeting in a huff because a colleague addressed the other national leaders in English. Chirac described himself as "deeply shocked."
The expanded EU comprises 460 million people who are trying to speak with one voice without sacrificing their political cultures and identities. In order not to offend any one country, the EU uses each of the 20 languages spoken in member states, at a cost of up to $1.6 billion in translation and interpretation expenses each year.
The article notes that lingistic protectionism has been a longstanding preoccupation of Chirac's. He apparently insisted on speaking only French during a state dinner with George Bush, and at a recent UN meeting, he "pretended not to understand questions in English" and tried to get Tony Blair - who speaks French - to interpret. (Guess he didn't try that with Bush.)
Also from today's International Herald Tribune, an article on the closing of the last synagogue in Tajikistan. My father-in-law often speaks about how Jews, Christians, and Muslims coexisted peacefully, for the most part, in the Damascus of his youth, and how this was true in nearly all the cities of the Middle and Near East. Both the Christian and Jewish populations have been declining in recent decades, to the point of virtual non-existence in many areas.