Our Saturday mix of novel stories from around the world starts in Greece, where voters on Sunday are slated to elect a new government. Normally, few Americans would care about a parliamentary election in a tiny country on the other side of the planet, but this vote could decide the fate of the Eurozone and, by extension, the United States’ economy.
Ominously, many Greeks aren’t necessarily disporting themselves well before the vote. I’m referring to members of the Golden Dawn, a far-right political party that evokes 1930s-era fascism.
This week, the Golden Dawn’s antics sparked controversies that many cited as proof of the social disintegration wrought by German austerity policies throughout Southern Europe. Take a look and decide for yourself.
On Friday, party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos vowed that Greece would retake its lost lands in Asia Minor from Turkey, an odd pledge given that both Greece and Turkey are NATO members. If they did get into a war, under NATO rules the rest of the alliance (the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany, etc.) would be obligated to attack and defend both countries simultaneously.
Mihaloliakos ignored those subtleties, however, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported:
“We will take back Istanbul, Izmir and the Black Sea,” Mihaloliakos said during the rally while addressing accusations of racism that have been directed at his party. “Yes, we are nationalists and racists. We are not hiding that.”
On Tuesday, Britain’s The Guardian reported that Greek parliamentarian and Golden Dawn member Ilias Panagiotaros threatened to kick immigrants and their children out of Greek hospitals, which have been suffering from shortages of medicine and other supplies as the Eurozone crisis has dragged on. Panagiotaros said he would fill the immigrants’ hospital beds with sick Greeks. (What happens if he can’t find enough Greeks who need to be hospitalized?)
And, on Monday, the UK’s Daily Mail reported that Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris sued two leftist female politicians for defamation. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, the lawsuits stem from an incident on Greek television last week that resembled “The Jerry Springer Show.”
Speaking at a live broadcast of a roundtable discussion among the candidates, Kasidiaris — a 31-year-old former army commando — became agitated and threw water in the face of one woman and then slapped another.
Kasidiaris is also suing the television station because technicians stopped him during his rampage and locked him in a back room. He was trapped in the room until he broke through the door and escaped.
Who said the Tea Party was extreme?
Fake bellies for sale
Some Americans spend tens of thousands of dollars to become pregnant. In China, they spend around $100 to look pregnant.
Xinhuanet reports that the business of fake silicon pregnant bellies is booming in China. Yes, ironically, in a country where the infamous one-child policy has resulted in fewer births, women are purchasing prosthetic bellies they strap onto themselves in order to appear pregnant.
In the U.S., customers unsurprisingly view the bellies as a bit of a joke while Chinese women take them seriously, the news service reports, quoting a belly seller:
“Our American customers, for example, are usually in the entertainment industry, like stand-up comedy, and they use it as a prop to increase comic effects, in addition to their use in art performances, while some Chinese buy the bellies to dress themselves up as pregnant women.”
Why would a woman want to look pregnant in China? According to some interpretations of Chinese law, bosses can’t fire pregnant women in the world’s most populous country. Sounds great, at least for females, right? The bellies even come in three different sizes so the women can fool their bosses as their fictional baby comes to term.
So what happens after nine months? I guess the women just pull out the first-trimester belly and start the whole cycle again.
Poor Mr. Ugly
Pity poor William Masvinu, a Zimbabwean from Epwoth, a poor suburb of the poor country’s poor capital, Harare.
Like those Americans who practice for weeks before trying out for a coveted 15 minutes of fame on “American Idol” and similar shows, Masvinu entered Zimbabwe’s Mr. Ugly contest hoping to improve his lot in life, reports The Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper.
Certainly he didn’t do it for the attention. As RFI reports, contest “organisers said they were looking for a man with such awful looks that children would run screaming from him.”
But Masvinu was in for a rude shock. Winning the ugly contest got him only $100 and a night’s stay in a hotel, he told The Herald. So now the poor guy is trying to sell himself to entertainment companies who might have a use for his ugliness, the paper reports:
“I am appealing to promoters, musicians and companies to consider engaging my services during their shows and other events where I can feature because I strongly feel that the title of Mr. Ugly goes hand in hand with these sectors. This will help me earn something for myself and my family.”
Unfortunately, no one seems to be enlisting his services.”I am struggling to make ends meet. I am going to redeem the vouchers for cash, which I will use at home. Those who wish to contact me can do so on 0734 510 483,” he told The Herald.
We don’t think our readers should call that phone number. But tell us what happens if you do.