Alternative brain drain, alternative science

Rojava

EXARCHIA, 6 June 2017. Reports from Athens suggest that a new “brain drain” is threatening wide-ranging and unanticipated consequences across the fabric of Greek society. While the first groups to emigrate from the crisis-stricken country were highly educated young professionals such as doctors and engineers in search of jobs overseas, the latest sector to be struck by a “brain drain” is the “anarchist” movement. Familiar to followers of the Greek crisis from iconic news footage of riots and urban graffiti, the self-organised anti-authoritarian sector has been a fixture of Greek society for decades. But the indications are that its presence can no longer be taken for granted, thanks to the increasing draw of foreign causes.

One recent report profiled a Greek leftist volunteer working in support of the Russian-sponsored “People’s Republic of Donetsk” in eastern Ukraine out of a representative office in the downtown Athenian neighbourhood of Exarchia, an area known as the avaton” or “ghetto” of “Exarchistan” in typically understated Greek media parlance.  Describing the Ukraine government as a “puppet for some parts of the U.S. regime” installed by a NATO-organised coup, he is quoted as saying, “It’s like the Spanish civil war” […]. “We see this struggle as similar to the fight against Franco. Donbass is the Spain of our lifetime.” Another story centred on a series of photos, claiming to feature an armed “Greek contingent” of anarchists fighting alongside the Kurdish militias against ISIS in a location identified from artlessly spray-painted graffiti as Rojava, near the Syrian-Turkish border. Such tales of Greek “anarchists” leaving the country to fight for foreign causes are beginning to stir fears of an “anarchist brain drain” among experts in Athens and beyond.

The potential impact of an anarchist brain drain could be far-reaching. As recently as last month, the New York Times reported that such was the failure of the Greek welfare state, that citizens had become reliant on dreadlocked and tattooed anarchist volunteers to plug the gaps in healthcare, education and migration policy. Many now fear that the latest wave of emigration will cripple this nascent social care system.

Among those concerned are, somewhat surprisingly, the drivers of Athens’s ageing bus fleet, who are becoming increasingly worried about the potential health effects of radiation from new “telematics” systems installed to track bus movements in real time. The bus drivers are alarmed at the potential effects of new technologies being deployed on buses, also including contact-free ticketing systems, with a number are already complaining of headaches and dizziness. “These machines are dangerous, they give off invisible radiation, I heard that they can give you cancer and impotence,” said Mr Makis, a veteran of twenty years driving the streets of downtown Athens, as he drew deeply on a filterless Camel and jammed his mobile phone against his ear to take an urgent call from a colleague regarding a hot betting tip. “Plus, my priest says they all have a 666 in their serial number, so you can draw your own conclusions from that.”

akyrotiko
DIY instructions for sabotaging contactless ticket scanner (unverified, https://twitter.com/Conclavios/status/830858596846018560

Until now, drivers could rely on the self-appointed guardians of the public interest in the loosely-termed anarchist community to dismantle or deactivate the offending equipment – but with their numbers dwindling, bus drivers fear for their health and their future. “Yes, they burn the occasional bus as well, but they’re good kids, they’re on our side,” nods Mr Makis.

However, as is often the case in Greece, necessity has given birth to invention, and new initiatives are springing up which promise to counteract this latest blow to the crisis-hit population. One of the more ambitious schemes involves the establishment of an Alternative Science Research Centre. Professor Charalambos Psekasmenos, the centre’s founder, says that the threat posed by radioactive tracking devices will be one of their first research priorities. “We already have a prototype shielding device for the cranial area involving ultra-thin sheets of aluminium, but the details are too top secret to disclose.”

Also on the cards is a climate research centre aimed at rebutting the “fake news” that is being disseminated by “mainstream science” relating to the myth of anthropogenic climate change. “We hope to get a grant from the corporate social responsibility budget of the power unions, who take a very enlightened view on this subject, and then apply for matching funding from the centre of Climate Excellence at Trump University,” reveals Psekasmenos.  A recent press release by Greece’s public sector power workers’ union pondered whether “Perhaps the US’s recent departure from the Paris Accord lifts the lid on the ‘fabrication’ known as ‘climate change’?” The research centre will definitely not be concerning itself with any shade of gender studies, as it is well known among “experts” that this is just a means of “experimentating on children’s souls” as a means of  “enslavement to foreign interests” and “illuminati bankers,” that must be resisted at all costs.

“In every crisis there is opportunity,” comments Professor Psekasmenos. “We Greeks are an ingenious race.”


THE USUAL DISCLAIMER: All links are 100% genuine Greek news stories from the last two weeks, strung together with an only slightly exaggerated tissue of fabrication.

MAIN IMAGE: Eleftheros Typos

Alternative brain drain, alternative science

The Zea Conspiracy

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I recently tried to take a break from the snark, cynicism and political intrigue that normally fuel this blog by sketching out a proposal for an essay combining two of my other interests: ancient stuff and food. A whimsical yet informative look at the revival of ancient foods, I thought, a good news story about rediscovering the past in the crisis, peppered with incidental historical detail and toothsome gastronomic tips.

But would “they” let me? The hell they would!

When I say “they” I am referring not to the voices in my head, but to my tirelessly inventive friends, the conspiracy theorists. I had forgotten Rule Number One: no topic, no matter how benign or obscure, is conspiracy-proof. Especially in Greece.

If you have visited a Greek health food shop recently, or any of the new generation of “traditional” delis, you will have been struck by the incredible array of dried pasta, a lot of it made in Greece from various obscure rustic grains. And if you happen to have read any literature on the origins of agriculture, some of these grains will sound familiar: δίκοκκο σιτάρι (Triticum dicoccum); spelt (Triticum spelta) often labelled by its German name, dinkel; and the more classical-sounding “Zea”. A veritable cornucopia of archaeobotanical samples seems to have taken over the shelves overnight, despite the hefty price tag that many of them command.

I was curious as to what had spurred this new market, particularly given that it coincides with a dramatic contraction in the average household’s spending power. So, naively I typed “ζέα καλλιέργεια” (“zea cultivation”) into Google. I was expecting to find official web pages from the Ministry of Agriculture about subsidy schemes, perhaps some farming publications discussing yield and soil types, and maybe a few food blogs of the “knit your own yoghurt” variety.

Instead I was confronted by a whole slew of articles with titles like “Zea, a well-made fairytale”, “What is zea and why it was banned in Greece”, “Bread from ZEA flour – READ the WHOLE TRUTH”. The random capitalisation signals it loud and clear: there is a TRUTH about zea that THEY don’t want you to know. The comments sections played host to some fairly disturbing flame wars, too – easily a match for an anti-vaccine bulletin board or a bitcoin forum.  So much passion and anger for a humble little grain!

Without much effort, I traced the source of the conspiracy stories. “The Historic Swindle” (Ο ΙΣΤΟΡΙΚΟΣ ΕΜΠΑΙΓΜΟΣ) by one General George G. Aïfantes, published in 2010 in archaïzing katharevousa Greek (the linguistic affectation of choice of the reactionary), now sadly out of print, is a classic of its genre. To cut a long and meandering story short, the book is an explication of how the great world powers conspired to destroy Greece over a century ago, with clearly telegraphed topical parallels to more recent events.

I will let the author explain in his words, translated verbatim below for the extensive passages quoted on various websites like this one (epilepsy warning!), with the original punctuation:

«Οί αρχαίοι δέν έτρωγαν ψωμί άπό σιτάρι. Τό σιτάρι τό είχαν ώς τροφή τών ζώων καί τό (ονόμαζαν πυρρό. Έτρωγαν μόνον ψωμί άπό Ζειά ή Κριθάρι καί έν ανάγκη μόνον από κριθάρι ανάμεικτο με Σιτάρι. Ό Μέγας Αλέξανδρος έτρεφε την στρατιάν του μόνο μέ Ζειά, διά νά είναι οι άνδρες του υγιείς και πνευματικά ανεπτυγμένοι. Αν οι αρχαίοι Έλληνες έτρωγαν ψωμί άπό σιτάρι δέν θά είχαν τόσο ύψηλήν πνευματικήν άνάπτυξιν.»

“The ancients did not eat bread from wheat. Wheat they used as animal feed and they named it πυρρό. They ate only bread from Zeia or barley, and only in emergencies from barley mixed with Wheat. Alexander the Great fed his army only on Zeia, in order that his men be healthy and mentally developed. Had the ancient Greeks eaten bread from wheat they would not have such a high level of intellectual development.”

«Μόλις οι κοσμοκράτορες έδιάβασαν αυτήν τήν έκθεσιν τής επιτροπής, δίδουν εντολή το 1928 νά αναιρεθή αμέσως ή καλλιέργεια Ζειά στην Ελλάδα, και μόνον στην Ελλάδα. Διά νά μειώσουν μέ το σιτάρι τήν πνευματικήν άνάπτυξιν των Ελλήνων, μειώνοντας τήν άντίληψίν τους και οργανώνοντας ταπεινήν έκπαίδευσιν των παιδιών τους καί διδάσκοντας τις πολιτικές τους εις τά σχολεία και πολιτικοποιούντες τα εις τά κόμματα που αυτοί ελέγχουν απόλυτα, για νά ποδηγετήσουν πλήρως εις πρώτον χρόνον τους Έλληνας. Ενώ τώρα αναμειγνύοντας τους μέ αλλοδαπούς, θέλουν νά τους εξαφανίσουν τελείως.»

“As soon as the world rulers read this report of the committee, they issued an order in 1928 to cease immediately the cultivation of Zeia in Greece, and in Greece only. So as to reduce with wheat the intellectual development of the Greeks, reducing their understanding and organising debased education for their children and teaching them their politics in the schools and organising them into political parties that they controlled absolutely, so as to control the Greeks in the shortest time. Whereas now mixing them with foreigners, they want to eradicate them completely.”

«Ναι άλλα πώς θά τό επιτύχουν αυτό;Αμέσως δίδουν έντολήν είς τόν τέκνον των τον Βενιζέλο νά έπιστρέψη στην Ελλάδα καί νά εξαφάνιση τήν Ζειά. Οπότε βλέπουμε τόν Βενιζέλο νά έπιστρέφη στην Ελλάδα μετά άπό 8 χρόνια αυτοε­ξορίας του, νά άνασκουμπώνεται και νά ορμά σάν λέων κατά τής Ζειάς. Μέσα σέ 60 χρόνια μόνον ήλλοίωσαν τήν πνευματικήν ύπεροχήν του σκέπτεσθαι τών Ελλήνων, τους έκαναν αδιάφορους, άβουλους, μέ μετρίαν αντίληψιν και φιλάσθενους καί τώρα μέ τους αλλοδαπούς επιδιώκουν τόν πλήρη εξαφανισμό τής φυλής των, ένώ συγχρόνως ξοδεύουν δισεκατομμύρια δολλάρια οι φιλεύσπλαχνοι διά νά μην εξαφανισθούν οί οχιές, κόμπρες, πάντα καί άλλα ζώα καί ερπετά.»

“Yes but how will they achieve this? Immediately they issue an order to their child Venizelos to return to Greece and eradicate Zeia. So we see Venizelos returning to Greece after 8 years’ self-exile, rolling up his sleeves and setting upon Zeia like a lion. Within a mere 60 years they corrupted the intellectual superiority of Greek thought, they made Greeks indifferent, timid, with mediocre understanding and sickly and now with the foreigners they are intending the complete eradication of their race, while simultaneously the benevolent are spending billions of dollars to prevent the disappearance of vipers, cobras and all other animals and reptiles.”

«Προς το τέλος του 1928 ο “Εθνάρχης” μας Βενιζέλος, προφανώς μετά από κάποια εντολή, με της Αμύνης τα Παιδιά, τυφλά εις τον νουν και την κρίσιν και διψασμένα το πώς να ευχαριστήσουν καλλίτερα τον αρχηγόν των εκήρυξαν τον πόλεμον κατά της Ζειάς και εφορμήσαντες ακαταμάχητοι, ενίκησαν νίκην λαμπράν και εις βραχύτατον χρόνον 4 ετών δεν υπήρχε εις την Ελλάδα ούτε ένα σπυρί Ζειάς για σπόρο. Είπαν εις τον λαό ότι η Ζειά είναι ζωοτροφή, δι αυτό τα λεξικά την γράφουν έκτοτε ζωοτροφή και ότι είναι βλαβερή στην υγεία. Αυτό το πρόβαλαν έντονα τα Μ.Μ.Ε. και σε 4 χρόνια εξηφανίσθη η Ζειά.»

Towards the end of 1928 our “Ethnarch” [sic] Venizelos, clearly acting on instruction, with his “boys in Defence” [an ironic reference to a pro-Venizelos anti-royalist song of the time], blind of mind and judgement and thirsting for how to best please their leader declared war on Zeia and charging forth invincible, won a glorious battle and in a brief 4 years there was not left in Greece a single grain of Zeia for planting. They told the people that Zeia is animal feed, and for this reasons since that time the dictionaries have it as animal feed and write that it is harmful to health. This was promoted strenuously in the Mass Media, and within 4 years Zeia had disappeared.”

The General goes on to say that Venizelos also expunged any reference of Zea from Greek dictionaries, and that his friends made a killing importing wheat into Greece on the back of the Zea ban. But that is not all. He also gives a vivid description of how gluten is used by “the establishment” to breed compliant slaves to the system. “Here comes the science!” as Jennifer Aniston used to say in the those shampoo ads – look away now if you know anything about molecular biology:

«Η γλουτένη του σιταριού καταστρέφει την υγείαν, το πνεύμα, την μεγαλοφυίαν, τον πολιτισμόν της ανθρωπότητος, διότι ως ισχυρή κόλλα επικολλάται εις τα τοιχώματα όλων των αγγείων πού διέρχεται, πεπτικούς σωλήνες, έντερα, φλέβες, αρτηρίες κ.λπ. Ένεκα τούτου παρακωλύει την σωστήν πέψιν, τις κενώσεις και την κυκλοφορίαν του αίματος, με τις αντίστοιχες επιβαρύνσεις εις την υγείαν.» 

“Wheat gluten destroys the health, the spirit, the genius and civilisation of mankind, because as a strong glue it fixes itself to the walls of all vessels that it passes through, digestive tracts, guts, veins, arteries etc. Because of this it prevents proper digestion, excretion, blood circulation, with the corresponding detriments to health.”

«Εις τον εγκέφαλον ως πρωτεΐνη στηρίξεως κολλά ισχυρά τις πρωτεΐνες της μνήμης με αποτέλεσμα, ότι παραστάσεις και ιδέες εβίωσεν το παιδί εις την ηλικίαν 3-7 ετών, οσο λανθασμένες και αν είναι, οσο πιο δυνατές και ξεκάθαρες αποδείξεις περί πλάνης του και αν του παρουσιάσεις αργότερα, δεν πρόκειται ως ενήλικας να απορρίψη τις αποθηκευμένες μνήμες και δοξασίες του, περί θεού, πολιτικής, κ.λπ.»

“In the brain as a structural protein it fixes solidly the proteins of memory with the result that, whatever attestations and ideas the child experienced at the age of 3-7 years, however mistaken they may be, however powerful and clear proof of their fallacy you present later, it will not as an adult reject its stored memories and beliefs about god, politics, etc.”

«Δι’ αυτό ακριβώς οι θρησκείες, οι Δικτάτορες, οι έξουσιασταί μας με διάφορα τεχνάσματα και ωραία λόγια προσπαθούν να ποδηγετήσουν τα παιδιά απο μικρή ηλικία και εσοφίστηκαν τα κατηχητικά και τις πολιτικές νεολαίες. Οι Δικτάτορες και οι τραπεζίτες εισήγαγον την πολιτικήν εις τα σχολεία με πρόφασιν, δήθεν, την προπαρασκευήν ενήμερων πολιτών, ενώ στην ουσία εκπαιδεύουν τυφλούς δούλους του τραπεζικού συστήματος.»

“This is exactly why religions, Dictators, our masters with various ploys and beautiful words attempt to manipulate our children from a young age, and devised Sunday schools and political youth movements. The Dictators and banker introduced politics into schools with the pretext of, ostensibly, producing informed citizens, but in reality they are training blind slaves of the banking system.”

«Όποιος απο εσάς πιστεύει εις την ανεξάρτητον σκέψιν των ανθρώπων, ας αγωνισθή δια την κατάργησιν του συνδικαλισμού εις ολα τα σχολεία, πλην των πανεπιστημίων. Επομένως η γλουτένη του σιταριού είναι και η τροχοπέδη της εξελίξεως και του πολιτισμού. Ταυτοχρόνως, τροχοπεδεί και την ελευθέραν σκέψιν και πνευματικήν άνοδον του άνθρωπου και τον καθιστά δούλον του ιερατείου, του κατεστημένου, διότι αγωνίζεται και θυσιάζεται δια αξίας που του ενέπνευσαν τα οργανωμένα συμφέροντα και όχι η φύσις. Είναι όλοι οι αγώνες του εναντίον των φυσικών νόμων. Αντίθετα η πρωτεΐνη στηρίξεως της Ζειάς (πληθυντικός Ζειαΐ) διασπάται απο τα ένζυμα και αφομοιώνεται σαν καλή τροφή απο τον οργανισμό.»

“Whoever among you believes in the independent thought of people, must struggle for the abolition of unionisation in all schools, with the exception of universities. Therefore wheat gluten is a brake on development and civilisation. Simultaneously it acts as a brake on the free thought and spiritual elevation of man and makes him a slave to the priesthood, to the establishment, because he fights and sacrifices himself for values that were inspired in him by organised interests and not by nature. All of his struggles are against the laws of nature. In contrast, the structural protein of Zeia (plural Zeiai) is broken up by the enzymes and absorbed as a good food by the body.”

No doubt the General found an eager readership in the intersection between those the 75 percent of our countrymen who apparently believe that the financial crisis was engineered by conspiracy against Greece by outside forces, the one in three who are convinced that “we are being sprayed”, and the uncounted hypochondriacs who buy water purification kits off TV informercials while speed-dialling the astrology hotline. The Zea conspiracy certainly found traction on the Greek fringe nationalist internet and its affiliated TV stations, where the General appeared regularly as a pundit. For what could be more patriotic than reviving the (alleged) food of Alexander’s troops that was (allegedly) banned by the Great Powers, and that (supposedly) boosts not just your bodily functions but also your IQ so that you can make Greece great again?

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The critics are equally vehement: Zea is a scam invented by profiteering farmers. It isn’t certified, and much of it is probably imported from Germany, fraudulently “Hellenised”, and inflated in price. It is nothing but the latest snake-oil put on the market to rip off gullible Greeks. It is bringing in GMOs by the back door. All references to zea attributed to ancient texts are invented or distorted. We are being sold grain that our ancestors barely saw fit for animal feed.

After consuming this rich fare, going back to writing about how “comeback grains” do offer some modest health benefits “as part of a balanced diet”, and how they may give farmers a new income stream, feels like swapping a big juicy double gyro wrap “with everything” for a virtuous bowl of all-organic, 100% vegan, gluten-free gruel. It’s a tough call. But at the end of the day, there is no sinister Zea abolition act in the parliamentary record, just the first modern food testing and standardisation regime, introduced in Greece 1928 (no matter how you choose to label it when you upload it to the internet). Nor does the accumulated knowledge of classical literature and archaeology support the General’s assertions that a crop called “Zea” was a staple of the ancient Greek diet and that wheat was not. As for the “science”, it belongs firmly in inverted commas along with Grain Brain, Wheat Belly and whatever other tome your orthorexic friend is is beating you about the head with this week. Eating whole grains will give you a healthier gut, and you may actually like the taste, but it won’t transform you into Pythagoras or Alexander the Great overnight. It certainly won’t restore Smyrna to Greece, or bring back the monarchy. “Buying Greek” may help local farmers, but it won’t make anyone rich, and it won’t end the financial crisis. All of the grains labelled “Zea” are ancestral wheat varieties that contain some gluten. But gluten isn’t poison for most people, nor is it part of a sinister government plot to keep us fat’n’stupid – and if it is, it is doomed. Your honour, I present as evidence millennia of bread-eating western progress, improved well-being and increasing lifespans.

To give credit where credit’s due, neither the obsession with food purity nor the anxiety over government control are uniquely Greek. “Survival seed banks” guaranteeing non-GMO, non-hybrid, “open pollinated”, “patriot” seeds untouched by government, the WTO and big agribusiness, packed in bomb-proof containers, are now a cottage industry in the US, competing for the custom of “preppers” making their plans for the end of days. To the question “Are governments attempting to stop citizens from growing their own food?” the answer for some is always “yes, the U.S. government now claims the power to simply march onto your farm with guns drawn and demand all your crops, seeds, livestock and farm equipment.”

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Thankfully we’re not there (yet)!

IMAGES: The Goddess Demeter with her Eleusinian attributes, wheat, serpents and poppies (go on, ask me about the poppies!) via patheos.com; crop duster by Charles O’Rear via Wikipedia.org; emergency seed bank via texasready.net.

 

The Zea Conspiracy

SPOILER ALERT: CIA behind anti-austerity riots in Greece, or worse?

Video footage has emerged on the internet which appears to show covert operations carried out by the CIA in Greece during an anti-austerity protest, thought to have taken place around 2011. Its release has caused uproar in Greece, where it is seen as confirming long-held suspicions that interference by the US has been behind key events in the country not only in recent years, but throughout the postwar era.

The video shows a man who appears to be covert operative inciting riots during a peaceful demonstration outside the Greek parliament. In one scene, the man is seen to take a petrol bomb from a masked rioter and smash it on the ground in front of police. He is later seen wielding a gun in the midst of the protest, before stealing a police motorbike to make his getaway with a female accomplice. In separate scenes which appear to be unfolding simultaneously, the footage appears to show evidence of an extensive CIA surveillance operation using facial recognition technology to identify individuals in the crowd from a darkened “situation room” in an unidentified location, thought to be CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Finally, a separate video has emerged which appears to show the same alleged operative entering a Metro station in Athens for unknown purposes.

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Still frames from recently released video footage appearing to show an armed CIA operative infiltrating an anti-austerity protest in Athens which turned violent.

“This is classic CIA provokátsia,” nodded taxi driver and self-described “independent thinker” Sophocles as he reviewed the footage on his smartphone. “Their agents infiltrate our legitimate homegrown protesters who are marching peacefully with just a few petrol bombs for self-defence, and manufacture chaos to destabilise the government and scare away the tourists.” He also pointed to the video as evidence of blanket surveillance by US agencies. “I always knew that white box on the top of the US Embassy is a listening device. And I’ll tell you something else, they are not just watching us, they are reading our minds and giving us cancer,” he nodded emphatically as he flicked his filterless Camel out of the cab window.

More sceptical observers have dismissed this interpretation as hopelessly naïve, arguing that there is clear evidence the video is fake. “C’mon, man, these guys faked the whole moon landing, do you think they would stop at this?” chuckled Nondas, a retired long-distance lorry driver. Skeptics like Nondas point to apparent discrepancies in the footage. “OK, so he’s riding a bike without a helmet. That looks convincing enough for downtown Athens. But look at this photo where the guy is supposedly getting on the Metro – that totally screams fake.” “First of all there are no strikes, and secondly (he points to the foreground of the photo) there are ticket barriers. Ticket barriers. These are rookie errors, my friend, this is clearly NOT Athens. Only a total idiot would fall for this. Wake up, sheeple!”

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Still frame from a video which appears to show a CIA operative entering the Athens Metro. In the foreground, the ticket barriers which give it away as a fake.

In recent years, the US and its secret services appeared to have ceded their position as #1 coup orchestrators in the Greek imagination to the Troika of the country’s creditors. As one prominent Greek left-wing critic described it in the midst of the heated bailout negotiations last summer, “The situation is reminiscent of Chile in the early 1970s when U.S. President Richard Nixon decided to overthrow Salvador Allende to prevent spillover effects elsewhere in America’s backyard. ‘Make the economy scream,’ was the order the U.S. President gave the CIA and other intelligence services, before the tanks of general Augusto Pinochet entered into action.” This latest revival shows that, like a first adolescent love, the Cold War-era CIA is never too far from the Greek conspiracy theorist’s fertile mind.

A more prosaic explanation circulated in the mainstream media, namely that this latest “evidence” is in fact a trailer for a summer blockbuster, set in Athens but filmed in Tenerife and Woolwich, left experts undeterred: “Why would they not film in our beautiful country but instead chose a pale facsimile? How else can it be explained?” asked Orestes, a political science student, pausing to polish his iPhone screen on his rakishly draped keffyieh-style scarf before answering his own question. “This is clearly a conspiracy of the Hollywood establishment, which everyone knows is nothing but the propaganda factory of the CIA and a cover for spying, just like in that film with Ben Affleck in Iran. Also, they resent us because we refuse to debase ourselves with tax incentives and filming permits so that they can make their filthy commercial disinformation. Greece will not become a sweatshop of the Zionist-capitalist-imperialist running dogs of…” he stopped himself, seemingly unnerved by something on his screen. “Sh*t, man, did you see that Pokémon? Over there, by McDonalds! Got it!”

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has explicitly denied any US involvement in attempted coups in the region, and the world breathed a sigh of relief as democracy triumphed. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stated that, “I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country”.

In Moscow, the presumptive puppetmaster watched the latest developments on the US presidential elections and congratulated himself on ushering in the new era of “democratic” tradecraft. “Good boy, Julian,” he murmured as he stroked his newest acquisition, an Australian white-haired cat curled up in his lap, and dropped a Garry Kasparov lookalike into the foaming tank of cyber-trolls. Democracy, it would appear, is safe.

[The full 123 minutes of US-sponsored disinformation will be on general release in most of the world in the last week of July 2016. Orestes and and his posse will have the added thrill of sticking it to The Man by viewing pirated copies in advance of its Greek release date on 1 September].

Images: Universal Pictures, Woolwich (Community Page).

SPOILER ALERT: CIA behind anti-austerity riots in Greece, or worse?

Bild it and they will come

vraxonisida

As the ranks of assorted banksters and humanoid lizards of the Washington Consensus prepare to gather in Dresden to plot the next financial crisis, the shadowy Bilderberg Club has made quite a splash by announcing the venue of its next conference – an uninhabited rocky island off the coast of Greece.

It is understood that the venue, already dubbed “Summer Davos”, will provide a more secure location than the English stately homes, French chateaux and Alpine lodges that have been favoured up until now. It will also provide a much-needed change of scene for the secretive global elites: leaked copies of the conference feedback forms published by Wikileaks show many of them scrawled with the message: “NO MORE CHINTZ PLEASE!!!”

Organisers have named the tiny island of Aigileia, nestled between the east coast of Greece and the larger island of Euboea (pronounced you-bee-ah) as the venue for the next meeting. It came as no surprise to Bilderberg-watchers that the island does not appear in Google Maps, but experts believe they have identified it as the landmass marked “Styra”, currently inhabited only by an indigenous variety of rock-eating goats.

Aigileia
REVEALED: The secret Bilderberg venue that Google doesn’t want you to know about.

“Agileia” first came to popular attention when the Greek Deputy Finance Minster and free camping enthusiast Dimitris Mardas first spoke of his vision of hosting an “Island of Arts and Philosphy”, where global leaders would be entertained by Shirley Bassey and Beyoncé, bringing the country prestige and inward investment beyond our wildest dreams. At the time he was widely dismissed as a crank, however it now appears that his vision is taking flesh.

It is thought that the island will offer a variety of accommodation choices, from luxury cabanas (the “Panama List”, named after the Bilderberg set’s favourite diversionary ploy) and high-tech underground lairs (the “Stavros Suite”, named after the middle name of Bond villain Blofeld) to more relaxed “glamping” tents featuring a dedicated all-female armed guard (named the “Gadaffi” after the simple Bedouin stylings of the deceased Libyan despot).

The announcement has caused a buzz in the world’s press rooms, where media strategy is already being adjusted to cope with the demands of the new venue. One veteran of the annual “Bilderberg watch” said to us in confidence: “Land based venues had made it too easy for any amateur pretending to be a journalist to rock up and claim to be “infiltrating Bilderberg”. I’m kinda sick of queueing with weedy Guardianista wannabes and beefy Texan conspiracy jocks to get through the hole in the fence… In the old days Bilderberg was a baptism of fire for the elite press corps, now it is a total media circus, there is even a press centre with free wifi and fake bellhop uniforms for hire.”

Media outlets have already kicked off a bidding war for the services of best-of-breed seaborne paparazzo talent, poring over portfolios of grainy long-lense shots of a paunchy Leonardo Di Caprio with the cast of the latest Victoria’s Secret show partying on Puff Daddy’s yacht off Cannes. It is even thought that some Greek outlets are looking to resurrect the home-grown know-how nurtured in the glory days when Onassis entertained Jackie-O on Scorpios. “I would dearly love a picture of Henry Kissinger unzipping his wrinkly human suit to reveal his true reptilian nature, or a video of the Giant Vampire Squid wrapped around Sheryl Sandberg” one picture editor said, “but I will happily settle for a decent pap shot of Christine Lagarde reliving her synchronised swimming days in the Aegean.”

The Greek government views securing the prestigious conference as a success not only in symbolic and political terms, but also as a potential boost to tourism revenues. Already specialist tourism operators have been offering so-called “conspiracy cruises” in Greece, and although these will be embargoed for the duration of the conference, it is anticipated that the venue will become a pilgrimage destination for the global conspiracy community. Skeptics, however, caution against complacency: the last Greek venue to be used by the Bilderberg Club in 2009, the Astir Palace resort in Vouliagmeni, is currently at the centre of a planning dispute after being sold off as part of a controversial privatisation plan.

The triumph is also a personal one for some in the top echelons of the Greek government. During the conference, the waters around the island will be patrolled by a crack amphibian team of the Greek navy led by Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who is said to have personally requested the assignment. “I really need that frog-man outfit to complete my lifesize G.I. Joe collection,” he is thought to have confided to a close aide. The conference will be opened by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, long believed by conspiracy theorists to be in actual fact a neoliberal ringer for the erstwhile leftist firebrand, installed by a cabal of globalists in July 2015 to implement their sinister plans.

“It is great to see such hands-on involvement by high-ranking members of the Greek government,” confirmed one of the shadowy Bilderberg organisers on condition of anonymity, “however, what we look for above all in a host country is a compliant leadership, one that is 110% behind our agenda. We are confident that we have that here in spades, but in any eventuality we are lining up a contingency plan.”

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Bild it and they will come

Get your Schism on!

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The Papal visit commemorative print-out-and-keep guide to the Eastern and Western Christian churches.

This week, after overcoming some minor technicalities, Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church will be visiting the Greek island of Lesvos with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Athens, to show support for the refugees arriving on the island and the local people who have been helping them.

If you have ever wondered how the churches compare on a number of key indicators, here is a handy guide.

Dogma

The two churches parted ways in the Great Schism of 1054, which marked the climax of series of disputes over issues as diverse as simple turf wars, through to who should pay whom their respects, and which bits of the Holy Trinity the Holy Spirit emanates from.

Semantics

Labels are important. Orthodox (meaning “correct”) vs. Catholic (meaning “for all”) suggests that the former are more concerned with being righteous even at the risk of remaining a minority, whereas the latter are overtly gunning for world domination. Orthodox Christianity is for religion snobs, the kind who are fond of saying things like “I prefer their early stuff, before they went commercial, it’s a bit more challenging but…” (strokes beard, takes sip of real ale, continues in same vein).

Open Hostilities?

Not since 1204, when the Fourth Crusade made a special detour on the way to Jerusalem to sack the Eastern church’s manor in Constantinople. In the last century there have been small steps towards reconciliation at the top level (mutual nullification of anathemas, to be specific) but in the ranks (especially on the Orthodox side) a particular brand of passive-aggressive anti-Papist propaganda remains a crowd-pleaser. Thus, an Athenian bishop announced that he was “praying for the Papal visit not to take place” (a known “activist bishop”, he was previously known for pronouncing the martial arts to be a gateway drug to the occult), while lurid warnings were issued from less official sources (this fringe news source warns of bad OMENS for Greece from the visit of the BEAST, noting for good measure that Pope Francis was anointed by the Rockefellers). Meanwhile, small snakes have started to appear in central Athens. Coincidence?

Pomp and circumstance

Neither church could be called “understated”. Both subscribe to the dogmas of “dress to impress”, “as big a gold cross as your neck can bear”, “no such thing as too much architectural gold leaf” and “more incense!”. The Pope has cool accessories, including his own patented “popemobile”. However, Orthodoxy has the edge here, for insisting on conducting its rituals exclusively in an archaic language. Much like Dylan going electric, one of the major signs of the Papists’ “selling out” was the introduction of guitars and modern-language mass. Points off for appearing both desperate and degenerate.

Nun appeal

No contest. It is possible to look good in the crisp monochrome contrast of the Catholic nun’s habit. A condoning attitude towards self-flagellation adds spice to the nun fantasy. A substantial chunk of the Buñuel canon pays homage to the discreet charm of the Catholic nun, while honourable mention also goes to Ken Russell’s “The Devils”, the guilty pleasure of many an “art house” fan. (“Nons!” as the infirm Father Jack in the comedy series “Father Ted” would have it. “Drink! Feck!”). And it’s not just for guys. My Catholic friends who were regularly beaten by the “penguins” at an all-girl Catholic school held regular viewings of “Black Narcissus” in rotation with “The Sound of Music” well into adulthood. Orthodox nuns on the other hand seem to come pre-aged and swaddled in a dusty all-black habit that would blend in at the more conservative end of the ISIS dress code. Negative fantasy factor, unless you are a priest on a remote posting. Catholics win.

Priest appeal

There is no Orthodox equivalent of Richard Chamberlain in “The Thornbirds”. Orthodox priests, sporting as they do the full beard and man bun, are destined to have only niche appeal. They tend to work better as postcard props posed against whitewashed walls or on donkeys, for the thrills of middle-aged German tourists. For a brief phase in the last decade, some younger specimens could have passed for that subspecies of hipster known as the lumbersexual, but soon it will be back to being mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. Catholics win, at least in fiction. And in case you’re wondering, ladies, rank and file Orthodox priests can marry. It’s a safe civil service job with a state pension – which counts for something in this environment.

Gross-out factor

Obviously, we both commit ritual cannibalism by imbibing the actual flesh and blood of Christ during Holy Communion. But while Catholics made it marginally more hygienic with the introduction of the dry communion wafer, we in the East have bread dunked in a petri dish of a chalice and administered on a shared spoon (incidentally, the dunking protocol is one of the finer points we fell out over back in 1054). Gross. The priest’s beard has been in there too. Orthodox win.

Body Politics

The Catholic church is very specific about what women can and can’t do with their bodies while they’re alive, strictly prohibiting birth control and abortion (aka. the “no soul left behind” policy). The Orthodox church catches you on your way out with a ban on cremation – but that’s for your surviving relatives to deal with. Catholics win for not waiting for the inevitable.

Accessibility Factor

To see the Pope up close, you need to book months in advance, or use binoculars in St Peter’s Square. Koutofrangos and I were able to walk casually into the Patriarchal Church of St George in the old Greek district of Fanari/Fener in Istanbul a couple of years ago to see Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew perform in front of a small gathering. My easily-impressed lapsed Catholic partner was so taken with the Patriarch’s accessibility he nearly joined the queue to kiss his ring, until he realised this would  pretty much guarantee an eternity spent burning in the abode of the damned. Not quite as impressive as bumping into Alan Rickman in the local Bayswater off-license, but kudos all the same.

Gore Potential

Catholics win hands down. Both churches venerate preserved bits of the human anatomy, but the Catholics have catacombs full of them. Also, for gore you can’t beat the concept of the Sacred Heart, a bleeding disembodied human organ destined to adorn a gang member’s bicep, or St Sebastian, a half-naked boy posing as an archery target. Add to this the endless elaboration on the horrors of purgatory and babies in limbo, and you begin to see where Alfred Hitchcock was coming from.

Scandal Register

Catholics win again, at least as far as exposure is concerned, by making their brand almost synonymous with pederasty. Although abuse is sporadically exposed in the Orthodox church, scandals are mostly confined to the church’s finances. They are either more virtuous, better at suppressing abuse stories, or perhaps it’s as simple as the ability to marry and the absence of altar boys, removes some of the more obvious temptations.

Conspiracy Potential

The Orthodox church (or at least some of its practitioners) are net producers of conspiracy theories (see above), whereas the Catholic church attracts them like flypaper. Dan Brown has been the main beneficiary of baroque plots featuring the Illuminati and Opus Dei, but somewhere deep in the bowels of the Orthodox-affiliated internet the Pope is sharing an aperitif of infant’s blood with the Freemasons and the Rothschilds after an energising session of hot yoga, in preparation for opening the floodgates to the Muslim hordes.

Worldly Goods

Tricky one this, as the churches do not comply with our earthly accounting standards. The budget of the Roman Catholic church in the United States alone is estimated to be in the same league as Apple Inc. The Church of Greece, on the other hand, is said to be close to bankruptcy. The Catholic church has been known to be more commercially-minded, pioneering one of the earliest innovations in financial engineering in the form of indulgences, which enabled them for the first time to monetise guilt. Regardless of size, however, neither church is a model of financial probity. The Vatican’s own bank is currently under investigation for money-laundering, while in Greece the Vatopedi affair revolved around a dodgy land swap, which implicated the abbot of a prestigious monastery and senior figures in government.

Demographics

Catholic: 1,200 million; Orthodox: 225-300 million (based on own estimates, so all the usual warnings apply, but you get the picture).

Which bring us to…

Common cause

A recent study estimated that by the middle of this century Islam will catch up with Christianity as the world’s most populous religion. Fellow smug secularists, atheists, agnostics and all-round fans of the Enlightenment, take note: it may feel like the march of Reason is unstoppable, but we will in fact “make up a declining share of the world’s population”.

Although both churches have voiced concern for the persecution of all refugees, they reserve particular concern for the suffering of Christians. When Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday demonstrating his humility by washing the feet of refugees, the ratio of Christians to other faiths was carefully calibrated at 8/4 – a bold symbolic gesture, but hardly representative of the fleeing populations. At the same time, it is not something one would imagine his predecessor doing. The Patriarch will also be taking the opportunity to celebrate the memory of “Papa Stratis”, a local priest who started a charity for refugees arriving on the island back in 2007.

Get your Schism on!

7 takeaways from that Wikileaks IMF transcript

livesofothers

There’s nothing like a good controversy to kick-start the weekend. This morning (Saturday) whistle-blowing crusaders Wikileaks released what they purport to be a transcript of an internal conference call by the International Monetary Fund on March 19, assessing the status of the ongoing review of the Greek bailout programme. In the transcript, IMF officials discuss their concerns that the EU is too distracted by the refugee crisis and the Brexit referendum to focus on negotiations with Greece, and that without intervention this may lead to another cliffhanger negotiation, or even risk of default in July, when Greece reaches its next repayment deadline. Sensational interpretations have not been far behind (e.g. Paul Mason’s typically sanguine “IMF plots new ‘credit event’ for Greece – Neoliberalism does not give a shit – part II” – presumably part of a series), but what struck us about this document?

Regular readers will know we love a good leak. We wade tirelessly through turgid audio files to decipher conspiratorial Grexit plots; when duty calls, are not afraid to release (possibly unverified) explosive transcripts ourselves. Once again, we have done the hard work to extract the key “takeaways” (as we say in the boardroom) of the Wikileaks transcript.

1. The sense of corporate ennui and frustration that suffuses this transcript makes it seem all too genuine. Doubt has been cast over its authenticity (Wikileaks do not reveal how it was obtained or from what source, and it has some oddities that make it slightly suspect); however, anyone who has done time on a major project will recognise the slow death of the soul that comes from spending hours in beige conference rooms having the same meeting over and over in bureaucratese, wishing you were somewhere else and wondering when you’re going to see your family again. Stakeholders who can’t agree on the project objectives, let alone metrics and KPIs (“if you go out and say for this year for instance you say they will end up with what you say, -0.5, -1 or something like that”… “-0.5 lets say, if they do all the measures”… “Ok, let’s say -0.5 and the Commission will say that they end with zero or +0.25 or whatever they have”… “+0.5″…); senior management who won’t intervene for fear of losing face (“We should have another meeting like had in Brussels and agree how to proceed”); targets that are fudged (“But can we do what you suggested? Have two programmes with two targets?”); deadlines that drift; missions that creep. “This is going to be a disaster,” says the IMF’s chief negotiator in Athens. Sigh. I know where you’re coming from, my dear. The glamour of international diplomacy isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. All of a sudden, the IMF seems human.

2. What makes it slightly less familiar and therefore (maybe) less convincing? It’s all business. There is no smalltalk. Plenty of dithering about business but no deviating from it. No “going anywhere nice on holiday?” (the call took place just before the Easter break, after all). No internal politics, no bitching about absent colleagues or negotiating counterparties. No quibbling over expense forms. No swearing, not a single tiny F-bomb (this must be how the international institutions differ from investment banking, cf. “Wolf of Wall Street”, “The Big Short”). I suspect the IMF must fish in the same recruiting pool as the FBI. I admire their ruthless efficiency but I’m not sure I would fit in (sound of cv being balled up and tossed in the general direction of the bin).

3. Aren’t we forgetting someone? There is no mention of former Greek Finance Minister and self-appointed centre of the universe Yianis Varoufakis. Which may explain why he went ballistic within mili-seconds:

(= For anyone who doubted that Troika = shadow state battalion of ineffective pseudo-technocrats who undermine Europe).

4. The Troika never went away. Participants refer to the creditor institutions by the T-word throughout, despite a ban on the term issued at behest of the current Greek government after it took office in 2015. Naming disputes seem to be flavour of the month in Athens.

5. Move along now, there’s nothing to see… There are bigger experts out there than me, having their weekend ruined picking this apart, so no doubt you will get a more informed analysis in time. But from where I’m standing, the transcript mostly reaffirms what we already know or have suspected about the positions of the various parties in the negotiations: that the IMF and the EU disagree on the necessity and desirability of debt relief for Greece; the IMF has been suggesting lightening the medium-term fiscal targets in order to move to a restructuring of Greek debt (i.e. what the Greek government has been asking for, indeed supposedly Alexis Tsipras’s own private Ithaca); the IMF does not trust the Greek government, and trusts the Europeans even less; that the reforms being negotiated in the ongoing review are politically difficult for Athens (duh!); that there is the looming deadline of a debt repayment in July, so a successful bailout review and the contingent loan instalment has to precede it. The IMF officials even sound a sympathetic note on how it might affect the Greek people if agreement is not reached by July (“I hope for the sake of the Greeks that we are going to find a solution soon…”). The leak is compromising for the IMF in that it reveals their internal doubts about their own negotiating strategy and shows their hand in the negotiation more generally. It is slightly embarrassing for the Greek government in that it highlights what concession they have made so far on reforms, and also reveals the IMF’s hunch that the Greek side are more focussed on avoiding short-term political pain than attaining the Ithaca of debt relief. But to act like any of this comes as a shock is disingenuous.

6. Unless you are the Greek government. In which case it is clearly a conspiracy by the IMF, meriting this spirited but barely legible statement and an official demand for explanations:

… clearly intended for the home crowd in the hope that no one would bother to try reading the original transcript (very conveniently, since the IMF team is due to return to Athens on Monday to continue the troubled bailout review)…

… to which the robots manning the IMF emergency response line in the wee hours of Saturday (EST) responded thus:

And eventually this (Sunday evening) from Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF:

  
Ouch.

7. Finally… Wikileaks gets its intel from the Greek press. Well, some of it…

… enough to undermine Mr Asantz’s* credibility somewhat – for future reference.

And the blustering and language confusion continues – from the deputy leader of Greece’s main opposition party:

 

*We have also decided to follow Greeklish naming conventions for the purposes of this post.

 

 

7 takeaways from that Wikileaks IMF transcript

Live your (urban) myth in Greece

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A new cruise operator is set to inject new life into Greek tourism this season with the launch of Atlantis-CON, the first conspiracy-themed sea cruise to feature tours of the Greek islands.

The organisers believe that a Greek cruise has unique advantages over the current offerings for this market niche, which mainly travel along the Atlantic seaboard catering to American conspiracy fans. “Friendly locals,” he says emphatically, “make this experience truly special.” What he means specifically is conspiracy-friendly locals. He explains that true aficionados of the “fringe thinking” genre are looking for something new, beyond vaccine cover-ups, the 9/11 Truth and faked moon landings.

The tour operator’s representative explained that a conspiracy tourist making landfall in Greece can expect to enrich his or her vocabulary of conspiracy beyond their wildest dreams: “This will be a truly mind-expanding experience. The way I describe it, you will land on a beach, and as the clear Aegean sea laps up against your sandalled feet (socks optional) the locals will festoon you with garlands of the most exotic blossoms of conspiratorial thought such as only flourish in this unique climate. They will then present you with complex devices of their own invention, crafted from the precious bedrock of ancient myth and refined through the modern technology of the internet. The Greek hospitality will instantly make you feel at home – i.e., questioning the last remaining assumptions about the world which keep you sane.”

“Also, you ain’t seen a chemtrail until you’ve seen a chemtrail against the azure blue of the clear Greek sky. This will, QUITE LITERALLY, blow your mind.”

The cruise, according to its promoters, is already popular with Russian visitors. At the same time they feel that it has a universal appeal, as, in their words, “everything is connected, isn’t it?”

The cruise brochure asks a series of teasing questions:

  • What do the ancient prophecies tell us about 9/11 and who has been suppressing the truth?
  • Why aren’t we told about the Atlantians’ role in Roswell?
  • Who are the Blond Race who appear in the Bible AND the Mayan scripts?
  • Why do the mainstream media refuse to advertise this cruise package?

Highlights of the cruise programme include:

In-depth seminars on the sacred texts of Saint Païsios, the patron saint of Greek taxi drivers.

Guest lecture by Demosthenes Liakopoulos, the renowned Hellenic national mysticist. “Professor” Liakopoulos will give an illustrated talk on the theme of “The Time Is Nigh” (“Ο καιρός γαρ εγγύς”), his own refreshing take on the coming apocalypse, grounded in the ancient philosophers and their true inheritors the Orthodox mystics, which revolves around Vladimir Putin leading the Blond Race in a final confrontation with Greece’s arch-enemy Turkey.

Oil and gas prospecting. The cruise route will follow the outline of the rich hydrocarbon reserves under the Greek seabed “which the New World Order suppresses in order to deny Greece its true greatness”.

Crypto-archaeological tours. The cruise will pause over the precise coordinates in the Aegean Sea thought to mark the location of the lost city of Atlantis, home of the advanced ancient civilisation believed to have invented space travel, the internet and new age spirituality, before colonising the New World. Guests will have the opportunity to study the interpretation of mysterious objects like the Phaistos Disk, whose true meaning has long been suppressed by so-called “mainstream science”. The ship offers a well-stocked library of seminal works of archeoUFOlogy and cryptozoology by Erich von DänikenGraham Hancock and David Icke for those wishing to pursue further reading.

Language lessons. In order to better appreciate the complexities of local thought, cruisers will be offered language lessons that go beyond the simple “kalimera” and “efharisto” to encompass more advanced vocabulary like “ifalokripída” (υφαλοκρηπίδα: continental shelf), and basic knowledge such as the lineage of the Nephelim, essential for establishing your credentials with like-minded locals.

Guaranteed GMO-free diet, patented 100% fluoride-eliminating on-board water filtration system, full disaster preparedness kits for all guests, including souvenir bug-out bag and anti-gun-control Molon Labe t-shirt.

Bespoke “experience” tours. More adventurous cruisers wishing to immerse themselves in the local culture will be offered tours of “Secret Athens” by a disciple of Païsios in a 100% genuine Athenian taxi. Tour highlights include masonic lodges concealed behind hipster bars in Aghia Irini (“my mate swears by his dead mother he once saw George Soros go in there with Henry Kissinger and Kevin Bacon”), a paganist grotto on Mount Hymettos thought to be the original “Bohemian Grove”, and an alleged CIA “black site” in an illegal scrapyard in the industrial zone of Aspropyrgos, culminating at a secret roadside canteen for a vrómikoρώμικο, lit. “dirty” – but don’t let the name put you off, as your guide will explain these are not your American hot dogs that are made with eyeballs and chemicals, but special Greek sausages following an ancient recipe by Epicurus which have curative properties – guide price €0.70). Throughout your tour, the guide will ensure that the taxi meter is switched off to avoid irradiation by harmful electromagnetic fields; seat belts are removed as they are known to be a deadly tool of US hegemony; the driver will smoke in order to neutralise the potential effects of chemtrails, while the radio dial will be locked on Derti 98.6FM in order to jam the surveillance frequencies of the agents of the New World Order.

The organisers have one final message for conspiracy buffs. The order form at the back of the cruise brochure features the slogan “Don’t wait too long. Come and experience the REAL Greece now before it is ISLAMICISED!” over a photo of the Acropolis with the iconic Al Zaatari refugee camp crudely photoshopped in the foreground.

Disclaimer: This post contains more than a grain of TRUTH. See Jezebelviolentmetaphors.com and Wired for EVIDENCE.

Image from thesalamandersailingadventure.com

Live your (urban) myth in Greece