Winter breakers

After a short hiatus spent freaking out, spending time with friends and family, and watching Star Trek, I am back. A lot of weird and awful things happened in my absence, and just before I put 2013 (FAR) behind me, I would like to discuss the weirdest of these. It seems that over the break a handful of countries have racked up some bizarre headlines. While this is good for some laughs, in the end, we are all losers in this contest.

image: YouTube

Egypt

After the year they’ve had, Egyptians could probably use all the laughs they can get, so it’s unfortunate that one of the country’s foremost comedic characters, Abla Fahita, is currently under investigation for terrorism due to comments she made in a phone-company commercial. Even more unfortunate is the fact that Abla Fahita is a puppet. Next Big Bird will be busted for money laundering, along with Elmo for….wait, that already happened.

Political analyst Ziad Akl sums it up nicely: “As stupid as it is, it’s very telling.” All I can say is this puppet is cute as shit and probably not the biggest threat to Egypt’s stability. But you never know I guess…

image: NKNews.org

North Korea

Just everything.

A few weeks ago North Korea sent perennial arch-nemesis South Korea a fax notifying them of the “merciless retaliation without warning” they would receive in return for allowing anti-NK demonstrations. So NK sent SK a fax to warn of a retaliation without warning? How silly. Even more so because no one has sent a fax in like ten years. I bet an intern or admin assistant received the fax, because no one important would ever be in charge of monitoring the fax machine for war threats.

How did SK respond to this grave security threat? In the words of the Washington Post’s Max Fisher, “South Korea, on Friday, turned around and sent the North Koreans a threatening fax right back.” Well played.

In other North Korea news, it recently emerged that dictator Kim Jong-un did not feed the uncle whom he had killed to a pack of dogs. I love negative headlines like this: you can make up something crazy then write about how it didn’t happen. Of course, this particular headline is entirely plausible, so reporters felt justified in discussing its veracity.

And finally, Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un’s stomach-turning bromance is still firmly intact. I was raging today at headlines that documented Rodman’s “love” for the despot until I read this in the Telegraph:

Rodman told reporters at Beijing airport that he hoped the match could “open the doors” to “talk about certain things”.

“But I am not going to sit there and go ‘Hey guy, you are doing the wrong thing. That is not the right way to do it. He is my friend first… and I love him,” Rodman said, sprinkling his comments with expletives.

That sounds surprisingly promising, though Rodman has likely signed his own death certificate with that comment.

America

A lot of things have happened in the US over the holidays. But the only one I care about involves Clay Aiken and the House of Representatives. That’s right–the man who stunned us with his moving rendition of “Solitaire” is now setting his sights on politics.

He wouldn’t have to spend too much time on a policy platform, as all his wisest words have already been included in his songs. On NSA spying: “If I were invisible, then I could just watch you in your room.” On partisanship in Washington: “Solitaire’s the only game in town, every road that takes him, takes him down.” So real.

Let’s just hope Ruben Studdard isn’t planning to run as a Republican candidate…

Saudi Arabia

I don’t talk about these guys enough, mostly because it’s too depressing, but this story is bizarre enough that I have to share it. Yesterday human body parts fell out of the sky and into a Saudi intersection located in a residential area. It is speculated that they are the remains of a Beiruti migrant who hitched a ride on a plane’s landing gear in a desperate attempt to leave. Horrific.

So that one didn’t actually originate in Saudi Arabia, unlike my favorite story ever from there, in which the Hayaa (religious police) shut down an educational dinosaur exhibit in a mall on charges of immorality. This sparked a hilarious Twitter frenzy, with one user theorizing that the Hayaa was afraid that people would begin worshipping the dinosaurs instead of God. By far the most awesome story of 2013.

Mexico

The news coming out of Mexico is usually quite dismal, so the Washington Post‘s article about Mexico’s hangover prison El Torito really brightened my holiday. Mexicans who exceed the limit of 0.08 BAC must take “a strange little journey to a squat brick building next to a playground on the west side of town where they can sit — and sit, and sit — and think about what they’ve done.”

Perhaps it indicates the sad state of affairs in Mexico when a story about how a nation deals with its rampant alcoholism serves as a distraction from other graver problems such as drug-trafficking, poverty, and kidnapping.

Still, in a country with TV characters such as “Jaime el Duende,” a deeply alcoholic elf whose catchphrase is “I just pissed myself,” this is quite unsurprising. Perhaps Jaime should spend some time in Hangover Prison, or at least show poor Abla Fahita a good time.

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