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Did the movie "Brazil" predict today's Greece?

The similarities between the Orwellian, dystopian classic “Brazil” (1985) and the Greece of Alexis Tsipras are striking.




Following a recent cabinet reshuffle, one of the “new” faces which prime minister Alexis Tsipras introduced to his roster of ministers is one which is actually all too painfully familiar for the Greeks.
Fotis Kouvelis, often referred to mockingly as “Old Man Fotis” by ordinary Greeks, was named deputy defense minister as part of the reshuffle. Kouvelis had previously served as the leader of the “leftist” Democratic Left (DIMAR) party, which participated in the governing coalition which was established following the parliamentary elections of June 2012, alongside New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). This government helped usher in the painful austerity measures of the second memorandum between Greece and the “troika,” which had previously been agreed to by the highly unpopular non-elected government of European Central Bank technocrat Loucas Papademos.
DIMAR resigned from the governing coalition in June 2013 in the aftermath of the then-government’s shutdown of state broadcaster ERT, but the damage was done. DIMAR has all but disappeared from the electoral and political landscape of Greece. Apparently though, the same cannot be said of Kouvelis himself, who has now re-emerged in Tsipras’ government despite not having been elected.
Amazingly though, the classic Orwellian film “Brazil,” released in 1985, may have unwittingly “predicted” the Greece of 2018. Depicting a terrifying and dysfunctional retro-dystopian society at some unspecified point in the future, one of the film’s main protagonists was the “deputy minister” Eugene Helpmann, a man whose terrifyingly sinister side was camouflaged by his pathetic and “folksy” public stature.
As if Brazil’s director had a vision into the future, the side-by-side photo pictured above shows an incredibly eerie resemblance between deputy minister Helpmann (played by Peter Vaughan) and Fotis Kouvelis. However, is this the only resemblance?
The dystopian society depicted in “Brazil” was stiflingly bureaucratic and remarkably dysfunctional on the one hand, yet ruled by an iron fist by an unseen (but presumably “leftist”) government, of which the aforementioned “deputy minister” was the highest figure shown or even named to the audience. No one was at the controls. Yet the overbearing state was everywhere — as was the brutally efficient police force.
Is this really much different than the Greece of 2018, ruled by an “anti-austerity” government that introduced the third and most onerous memorandum agreement and set of austerity measures, which will remain in place long after Greece’s purported “exit from the memorandum” this August, and long after the expiration date of the current regime?
The Greek state is both purposely incompetent, with no shortage of horror stories of Greek bureaucracy and the Greek “justice” system, yet terrifyingly efficient. Elderly venders selling chestnuts on the street without a permit are harassed, intimidated, and arrested by the police, while even the smallest of debts to the Greek state are digitally confiscated from the bank accounts of the elderly and unemployed.
The riot police (MAT), which SYRIZA pledged to abolish in one of its many pre-election promises, remains fully operational today and has not hesitated to break apart demonstrations and to physically attack protesters, cracking the heads of elderly men who have the audacity to protest the continuous cuts to their pensions.
The state itself is overbearing and “paternal,” and in reality essentially inescapable. Establishing a business or corporation can be a nightmare. If a Greek owns a property which may have been inherited from relatives, or owns a car which may in fact have been purchased during better economic times, the system of taxation implicitly presumes “tax evasion” and levies a tax based upon an assumed income threshold which may not actually exist. Guilty even if proven innocent. For years, Greek households had to save receipts even for the smallest of expenses, in order to “prove” they were not evading taxes. Today, Greeks are encouraged to conduct all of their expenses electronically and with plastic cash, and are promised some paltry tax breaks for reaching a certain spending threshold using such methods of payment. Meanwhile, the state tracks all of your expenses, all in the name of fighting “tax evasion,” not much different to the universal surveillance state depicted in “Brazil,” created in the name of “fighting terror.”
For the privilege, Greeks enjoy one of the most stifling and regressive tax systems in Europe. Even staples such as orange juice are taxed at 24 percent. Instead of getting social services, health care and pensions one can live on, Greeks get a bigger, fatter state, rife with patronage hires (such as at the reopened state broadcaster ERT). Wealthy Greeks, however, simply move their money to offshore tax havens and are not investigated by the authorities, who are too busy harassing chestnut vendors and putting on a dog-and-pony show with the politically motivated Novartis scandal, which “coincidentally” rose to the forefront after the massive Macedonia rallies, to care.
Meanwhile, like his big screen counterpart Eugene Helpmann, Fotis Kouvelis is a pathetic public presence, one who exudes a timid aura even whilst supporting the most savage and onerous of austerity measures, such as those which his party helped prop up during their period of co-governance in 2012 and 2013. And it is this man who is now Greece’s deputy defense minister, at a time where Greece is facing unprecedented threats and provocations from Turkey, Albania, and FYROM, as well as an ongoing influx of migrants which is destabilizing Greek society and which may pose a national security threat.
While social media had a field day with Kouvelis’ political re-emergence and his appointment to this particular ministerial post (via the circulation of memes such as the one pictured on the left), the threats Greece is facing are no laughing matter, except perhaps for the clowns masquerading as the “leftist” Greek government.
It seems, therefore, that Brazil’s director Terry Gilliam may have unwittingly had an image of the future when producing Brazil back in the mid 1980s, an image which he then masterfully depicted on the big screen, a vision of the crisis-ravaged Greece of 2018.

Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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Trump to Tsipras: You're fired!

Trump completes hostile takeover of Greek government: Tsipras fired, SYRIZA-led government and MPs ousted, new elections coming.



He’s out!
In a development catching the political world by surprise, U.S. president Donald Trump announced to the world via Twitter this morning that Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has been fired, effective immediately. Trump tweeted:

“Flew in to Athens this morning on AF1 and met with Alexis Tsipras. Told him “YOU’RE FIRED.” #Greece deserves better. We’re going to Make Greece Great Again.”

In a follow up tweet, Trump elaborated:

“Know all about hostile takeovers from the business world. We are not hostile towards #Greece but when leadership is failing they have to go. Must go. Tsipras has been FIRED. Make Greece Great Again! #MGGA”

In a press conference at the Maximou Mansion in Athens shortly afterward, Trump stated:

“I ran for president of the United States of America on a pledge to drain the swamp. It’s a difficult job but I’m the man for the job. The swamp has ruled Greece for far too long and it’s time to put a stop to this and make our friend and ally, Greece, great again. We are going to get down to business starting now and we will Make Greece Great Again.
My administration will get down to work, Eric [Trump] is going to be in charge of day-to-day operations and I’ll spend my weekends here, fixing this mess.
We will hold new elections and the Greek people will be freed from the swamp, which has ruled for far too long. Way too long. We know fake news is a yuge problem in Greece, except for those guys from Hellenic Insider whom I read every day. We are going to fight back against fake news. There will be no more fake news.
We are going to oust the EU and troika swamp as well. The Greek people deserve their country back. They deserve their currency back, their future back. We are going to tell the EU and the troika that they are out. They are fired. This is going to be yuge, very yuge, and we are going to bring Greece back again and Make Greece Great Again.”

When asked about the status of Alexis Tsipras and his cabinet, Trump said:

“Silly Alex Tsipras is under house arrest at this time, as are the members of his government and many members of parliament past and present. From several parties. They will be tried for their actions against the Greek people and this proud country. Greece gave us democracy, and we will bring in fresh blood, Greek blood, capable Greeks, and only Greeks, to make Greece Great Again. Tsipras is fired, little Sack O’ Lottos [referring to Euclid Tsakalotos] is fired, the inexcusable Kotzias and Kammenos are fired, they are all FIRED effective immediately. SYRIZA is out.
I know that you have had some issues with Turkey but I like to make deals. It’s called art of the deal. We are in talks to trade Tsipras and some others to Turkey for your two soldiers. We will get down to business, we will make it happen, we will Make Greece Great Again, we will bring them home.”

Alexis Tsipras keeping busy while under house arrest.

Trump also added some levity to the situation. When asked how he will handle the provisional duties of running Greece, he quipped:

Used to eat at Greek restaurants in New York all the time, learned a lot of Greek from the owners of those places. My Greek is better than Silly Alex’s English, I can tell you that. Love Greek food, loved it in New York. Can’t wait to try yours. Can’t wait. I love Olympiacos as well, yuge, yuge team. The attacks against them will stop now. The only Grexit that will happen under my watch is exiting the eurozone which has hurt you for too long. Too long. We will make your teams great again.”

Alexis Tsipras, immediately following his firing by Donald Trump at the Maximou Mansion in Athens.

Tsipras has been in a catatonic state since his firing, not unlike the condition he was in during his meeting with former U.S. president Barack Obama. Rumors on the internets have also suggested that now former defense minister Panos Kammenos, during his arrest, begged to see Trump and asked for his autograph.
Russian president Vladimir Putin was the first world leader to congratulate Trump on his takeover, in a statement released by the Kremlin on Sunday afternoon. Describing Greece as a historic friend of Russia, he stated that he looked forward to developing new and closer ties with a stronger Greece, adding his hope that this takeover will lead to a new era of more positive relations between Russia and the western world.
Relax! This is satire. Laugh, it’s good for you!

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Unhinged: Turkey's top model threatens Greece with "Ottoman slap"

Following in the proud footsteps of Turkey’s mad sultan, Turkish top model Merve Akanat declines an invitation to Athens Fashion Week, offers an “Ottoman slap” instead.



First it was the mad sultan, Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan, threatening the United States with an “Ottoman slap.”
When that didn’t work out exactly as planned, Turkey’s top model took up the cause.
Merve Akanat, the recent winner of the Top Model of Turkey content, stated recently that she turned down a proposal to participate in Athens Fashion Week later this month, apparently as the result of Greece’s stance towards Turkey:

“I received a proposal for the Fashion Week in Athens on March 30th. But I recently dismissed it because of Greece’s attitude towards my country.
Greece must know that we are grandson of Ottomans. We know to stretch an olive branch, but also to give an Ottoman slap wherever it should.”

The use of the expression “Ottoman slap” is not without its symbolism. What exactly is it? Here’s an explanation:

“[T]he punch was regarded as something that a woman would do, it had to be a slap to the face if you were a real man. These fighters would allegedly toughen their hands by slapping clay, bark or marble and legend has it they could crack a skull.”

It remains unclear whether Akanat’s “Ottoman slap” will be delivered directly from her own hands, with the aid of a strap, or whether mad sultan Erdoğan will be enlisted to do the honors.
Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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It is election day in Russia

And we thought it would be interesting to collect some thoughts of the Russian people as they go to the polls today

Seraphim Hanisch



Today, March 18th, Russians everywhere go to the voting locations to pick their candidate of choice for the President of the Russian Federation. This will be a six-year post.

A Russian friend of mine sent me this, and it seemed to capture the attitude and mood many people here feel about their own country and about the behavior of the United States. From the first meme, I found others that worked along the same lines. There are many but we included just ones with the cleanest language.

So, we hope you all enjoy it.

Translation: Let’s all go to the elections. We elected the US President. Let’s elect the President of Russia!

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