In an attempt to profit off Obamamania, a German company has created a new food: Obama-Fingers.
The packaging says the product is "tender, juicy pieces of chicken breast, coated and fried." A curry dip is included.
Putting the African-American president's name on fried chicken might not go over so well in the United States, but the company, Sprehe, said no racist overtones were intended. After the company's sales manager told Spiegel Online, "We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment," she went on to say, "It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new U.S. president."
Finger-licking good, anyone?
If Russia Today is to be believed, out of 12,000 dogs competing at the recent Eurasia-2009 dog show in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev's three dogs just happened to all win top prizes:
The president’s two English setters, Joly and Daniel, got first place in their individual classes, while his golden retriever, Aldu, received a silver medal at the Eurasia-2009 dog show.
I find this about as convincing as a Chechen election, but one audience member swears that the presidential pooches deserved their honors:
“I understand that some people may think that the president’s dogs only won because of their master, but his dogs really performed well. And they are beautiful.”
Whatever. The judges are just lucky Putin's dogs Koni and Tosya weren't competing. Awkward.
DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images
Georgia's entry in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Moscow in May, is a pretty obvious jab at Russian Prime Minsiter Vladimir Putin. The peppy disco number by vocal trio 3G with guest vocalist Stefane, is titled "We Don't Wanna Put In" and features the chorus:
We don't wanna put in/the negative move/is killing the groove
Imma try to shoot him/some disco tonight/boogie with you.
Check it out:
"We need to send a message to Europe and first of all to Moscow. It's important for us to say what Georgia wants to say as a country."
What happens when the leaders of industrialized nations meet for a high-profile summit, stop being polite, and start getting real? YouTube gold is what.
Japanese finance minister Shoichi Nakagawa made his bid for internet immortality with his slurred performance at the G7 finance ministers' meeting over the weekend. The Nakagawa tape now joins these other classic examples of summit tomfoolery that would give Christian Bale a run for his money (Yes, three of them involve George W. Bush.):
4. Putin pwns Bush on Iraqi democracy:
3. Bush informs Blair of the need to "get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit":
2. Seemingly buzzed Sarkozy talks to reports after a "dialogue with Mr. Putin":
1. The backrub:
Passport has mentioned in several dog-related posts that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a fear of dogs, reportedly due to a childhood biting incident. But this week, Merkel appears to have finally found a dog that doesn't induce cynophobia:
Above, Merkel and Bavaria's state premier, Horst Seehofer, admire a dog-shaped bag nominated for a toy award as she tours the 2009 International Toy Fair on Feb. 4 in Nuremberg. Merkel would be totally styling with this doggie bag.
Photo: TIMM SCHAMBERGER/AFP/Getty Images
Putin took a few hours off from dealing with the financial crisis late last month to dance to hits like "Money, Money, Money" performed by the ABBA tribute band Björn Again in a private concert for the prime minister and a group of friends, organizers of the show told The Moscow Times.
"Putin and his colleague friends were all dancing and getting involved with the choreography," Björn Again founder and creator Rod Stephen said in a telephone interview from London.
Putin and the others waved their hands in the air during a rousing rendition of the Swedish group's "Super Trouper" and pointed their fingers during "Mama Mia," Stephen said.
The Jan. 22 show took place in a concert hall at a Kremlin residence near Valdai Lake, in the northwestern Novgorod region, said Stephen, whose band charged ?20,000 ($29,000) for the performance.
A source involved in the concert said it was organized by the Kremlin for Putin but that no state funds were used in arranging the show.
"ABBA is popular, and [Putin] likes them," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
I can understand why the source was worried. We may have just discovered the one area where the Deep Purple- and Pink Floyd-loving Dmitry Medvedev is more of a badass than his prime minister.
Update: It just occurred to me that if known ABBA-lover John McCain had been elected, the two leaders could have used this common interest to move past their differences and usher in a new era of U.S.-Russia cooperation. Oh well.
A public contest for the "world's best job" -- taking care of a tiny Australian tropical island and writing about the experience -- received an unusual video application from one "Osama bin Laden." ''I enjoy the outdoors and sandy areas,'' the ersatz Bin Laden says. 'I've got experience with videos, delegating tasks and experience with large scale event coordination.''
Australian pranksters seem to have something of a fetish for the terror mastermind.
If I ever interview another Kenyan politican, John Oliver of the Daily Show did a brilliant job last night of showing me what subjects not to raise:
And you thought our failed states interviews were awkward.
Italy has taken its fair share of losses in the current economic downturn. However, the damage hasn't been severe enough to elevate it to one of the top five countries that we fear could become the next Iceland. In scanning the reddit comments on our list, I noted one Italian with a hilarious explanation for why Italy hasn't been more affected:
We (Italy) are somewhat not in this mess because our banks did not understand the last 5 years of finance and did not pretend to understand it, so they stayed out. We are now in the spot where stupidity and luck meet.
Photo: AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS
Former French President Jacques Chirac was recently mauled by his white Maltese, Sumo, who happens to suffer from clinical depression. The vicious beast, seen here in 2007 with Chirac's wife, Bernadette, had become increasingly prone to unprovoked violence over the years and was taking antidepressants. Chirac was treated at a hospital for bites and is expected not to have permanent scars.
This incident wasn't the first time a presidential dog has behaved aggressively:
There are two presidential dogs, though, who couldn't have created well-publicized biting incidents even if they had wanted to. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's Pekingese, Dot and Buddy, appear to have been placed in hiding.
President Obama ought to be careful which lucky canine he selects for First Pooch.
DANIEL VELEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Kudos to Chesley Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot behind yesterday's "miracle on the Hudson". Fortunately, passenger jet crashes are extraordinarily infrequent worldwide. But for the aerophobes out there, here are two interesting lists of countries to avoid flying in, and airlines to avoid flying on:
The European Union has a blacklist of airlines banned from Europe for being too unsafe. The list is populated mainly by airlines from African countries and failed states. It includes North Korea's Air Koryo, Sudan's Air West, all of Indonesia's airlines, and over fifty airlines from the Democratic Republic of Congo -- including the unfortunately named "Safe Air Company".
The US Federal Aviation Administration has a list too, of countries that it deems capable, or not, of meeting international aviation standards. Most of the "category 2" countries that don't meet international standards are small or poor countries, like Kiribati and Bangladesh. Israel, though, is a surprise inclusion.
Treat these lists skeptically. They may be politicized. And while air accidents happen six times more often in Africa than in other regions; the rate there is just four accidents per million flights.
Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Via Japan Probe, a Hilton in Osaka is offering guests a chance to use the yen's rise against the dollar to their advantage. The price in yen "$80 party" package fluctuates daily based on exchange rates. So if you reserve a party, expecting the value of the dollar to stay low, you can get a pretty good deal.
Here's what you get for your money (in Japanese):
I doubt this is true, but it is funny:
The subdued Ms Merkel, who loathes Mr Sarkozy's bravura, has been watching videos of the late Louis de Funès, a manic comic actor and Gallic institution, for clues to understanding the ever-agitated President.
Here's a representative sample of M. De Funès's work:
Speak Japanese? Me neither. According to Japan Probe, though, this video report tells the tale of one Mr. Nakamura, a boxing-gym owner in bicycle-clogged Osaka:
Nakamura acts a volunteer bicycle parking manners enforcer, standing around for hours forcing people to re-park their bicycles in places he decides. All his efforts are ultimately meaningless, as the sheer volume of bicycles means there will always be parking chaos.
Watch the video here:
The editors at MaxPlanckForschung, flagship journal of Germany's Max Planck Institute, got a little more than they bargained for with an example of "classical" Chinese calligraphy they used on the cover of their latest issue. The idea was to evoke an image of China, which was the focus of the issue. But instead of arousing interest in cutting-edge science, Chinese readers discovered the calligraphy was titillating in other ways. A translation:
With high salaries, we have cordially invited for an extended series of matinées
KK and Jiamei as directors, who will personally lead jade-like girls in the spring of youth,
Beauties from the north who have a distinguished air of elegance and allure,
Young housewives having figures that will turn you on;
Their enchanting and coquettish performance will begin within the next few days.
Despite having consulted a "German sinologist" about the text, no one seems to have caught the two glaring letter K's - I would think a dead give-away things aren't so "classical," even if you fail to comprehend the other characters. Maybe that's just in hindsight, though.
If only the content in science journals was so exciting.
In a spirit of reflection, as the UN's International Year of the Potato winds to a close, we present this monstrosity:
Lebanese farmer Khalil Semhat holds a giant potato in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre on December 6, 2008. The farmer couldn't believe his peeled eyes when he discovered he had grown a massive potato weighing 11.3 kilos (24.9 pounds), he said today, adding that he now hopes to enter the Guinness World Records book.
The Waite-Petri campaign is adopting an age-old tradition of using their platform to advocate for the abolition of the Council. There is one caveat, however. “We’re going to invite a member of the House of Hapsburg to rule the student body indefinitely instead,” Waite says.
“I think that a member of the Royal Family would be in a much stronger position to negotiate with the administration and faculty,” he explains. “It’s much easier for Harvard to blow off a group of self-important undergrads than it is the House of Hapsburg.” [...]
Despite the fact that no American university has ever established a hereditary monarchy to rule over the student body, Waite says that this is certainly not an obstacle.
“Harvard is always on the forefront of change. We can set an example,” he says.
I'll have to check with Blake and Beth, but I think that Yale is now obligated to adopt the Romanovs in retaliation.
Are you a member of the global elite? Do you enjoy shooting things? Have we got the product for you.
Colombian tailor Miguel Caballero, who for years has provided Colombia's political and business elite with safe but fashionable bulletproof garments, has seen his international business boom since since U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accidently "peppered" his friend in the face with a shotgun while hunting quail in 2006. Buckingham Palace just ordered 52 jackets.
The Guardian reports:
[Caballero] has opened a branch in Mexico, which is convulsed by drug-related violence, and will soon open another in Guatemala. High-profile clients include Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, Spain's Prince Felipe and the Hollywood action star Steven Seagal, who requested a bullet-proof kimono.
In July, Caballero opened a branch in Harrods, London's flagship store, to cater largely to security-conscious Russian and Arab plutocrats. "We're just starting there and it's going well," he said this week, just back from a visit to London.
The protective jackets, blazers and raincoats rely not on Kevlar but overlaps of special synthetic material. The "classic" model weighs 1.5kg and can stop a round from .38 revolver and 9mm pistol. The "platinum" model weighs 2kg and can stop a mini-Uzi and MP5 assault rifle.
Caballero enjoys testing out new garments by shooting his employees, particularly his lawyer. If watching journalists get shot is more your speed, you can watch the Guardian's Rory Carroll take one at close range here.
Last time we checked in with the reliably buffoonish Russian ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, he was engaging in fisticuffs with his political rivals on live TV. But despite his surly temperment, corruption, and overt racism, Zhirinovsky's might still mean well after all. Check out the personal finance advice he gave in an interview with RIA-Novosti (via Johnson's Russia List):
"I have been thrifty. I am not having my hair cut. My hair has already grown longer than ever. I only shave every other day. I eat very little. I never go out. I never invite anyone over to my place. I don't buy presents for anyone and I am asking people not to buy anything for me. I am not travelling anywhere," he said.
Zhirinovskiy recommended "saving reasonably" and said that this would result in reduced spending. He made several suggestions: "There is no need to buy new clothes. They can be swapped with others. I am prepared to give a couple of suits to someone, several pairs of shoes, a wristwatch. Why go shopping? Turn to each other to get what you would otherwise have to get from a shop."
Zhirinovskiy also said there was no need to spend money on personal hygiene products because "all these are chemical and hazardous". Fewer newspapers should be bought because the same newspaper can be shared "by all next-door neighbours" or perhaps "the entire block", he continued.
"As for Christmas celebrations, there is no need to travel abroad or to go to a restaurant. Stay in Moscow, stay at home or invite yourself over to someone else's place."
Something tells me Zhirinovsky's friends might not be so welcoming when he shows up uninvited to their Christmas party without having used personal hygiene products for several weeks.
Photo: Epsilon/Getty Images
Amid a slew of piracy stories from Somalia, a fake Bloomberg piece is circulating the 'net today with a report that Wall Street bankers might cringe upon reading:
Somali Pirates in Discussions to Acquire Citigroup
By Andreas Hippin
November 20 (Bloomberg) -- The Somali pirates, renegade Somalis known for hijacking ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup.
The pirates would buy Citigroup with new debt and their existing cash stockpiles, earned most recently from hijacking numerous ships, including most recently a $200 million Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The Somali pirates are offering up to $0.10 per share for Citigroup, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said earlier today. The negotiations have entered the final stage, Ali said.
"You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to
offer the shareholders anything," said Ali.
The pirates will finance part of the purchase by selling new Pirate Ransom Backed Securities. The PRBS's are backed by the cash flows from future ransom payments from hijackings in the Gulf of Aden. Moody's and S&P have already issued their top investment grade ratings for the PRBS's.
Head pirate, Ubu Kalid Shandu, said: "We need a bank so that we
have a place to keep all of our ransom money. Thankfully, the
dislocations in the capital markets has allowed us to purchase Citigroup
at an attractive valuation and to take advantage of TARP capital to grow the business even faster."
Shandu added, "We don't call ourselves pirates. We are coastguards and this will just allow us to guard our coasts better."
(Hat tip: Andrew Willis)
Continuing with the secret agent theme, here's Nicolas Sarkozy annoying world leaders with his famous Dr. Evil impression. Alternate captions are welcome.
Photo: Pool/Getty Images
Remember the old Carmen Sandiego computer games, where each case began with Carmen and her
gang carrying out an absurd heist of, for example, Niagara Falls or the Great Pyramids? I was reminded of these games upon reading that thieves in
Hundreds of tons of white sand were removed from a planned
People have complained for a long time, of course, that sand has a way of getting into the strangest places. This is, I suppose, just one more.
Some day I'm going to tell my grandchildren that I remember the days when ridiculous stunts involving massive amounts of food were dominated by Americans. I could live with Japan winning U.S. hot dog eating contests, but this is just too much:
Apparently, the crowd's hunger seems to have gotten the best of them before Guinness officials could measure this ostrich-meat monster. Never mind nukes -- I expect the next U.S. president to take concrete steps to ensure that the Iranians never again comes this close to sandwich dominance.
Yup. That's Foreign Policy's January/February 2006 issue featuring Hugo "Boss" Chávez himself on the cover. The therapist in this scene obviously has excellent taste in office reading material, though he may want to renew his subscription.
For the record, we had nothing to do with this but we think it's great and hope the trend continues. A recent issue of FP would look great on Alec Baldwin's desk on 30 Rock or in House's waiting room. We weren't founded until 1970 so I guess Mad Men might be a stretch.
(Hat tip: Agent Zero)
Colin Powell appears to have traded statecraft for stagecraft. The former Secretary of State hopped on stage with the Nigerian hip-hop group Olu Maintain last night at the Africa Rising Festival at London's Royal Albert Hall. Powell danced to the group's song, "Yahoozee," and even took the microphone to sing a few lines. The song celebrates "Yahoozee," a term used for those who defraud people using the Internet, a booming industry in Nigeria. Whether Powell knew the subject matter of the song remains a mystery.
More disturbingly, Powell's performance continues a worrying trend of international statesman trying to branch out into hip-hop careers. The world had only recently recovered from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's rap tribute to Jay-Z when it was hit with Powell's bombshell. Who's next, Robert Gates?
At last Wednesday's United Nations Association 50th anniversary gala, rapper Jay-Z was honored for his work with the project Water for Life. Getting a bit too into the spirit, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a rap, which includes shout-outs to his homies Jay-Z, Ted Turner and Bill Luers, president of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. UN Dispatch's Mark Leon Goldberg passes along video and lyrics:
Global Classrooms are a cinch
With the help of Merrill Lynch
When you put the org in Google
Partnerships go truly gloooobal
There is hope for Earth's salvation
With the Cisneros Foundation
With Jay-Z there's double strife
Life for children and water for life
Human health will get ahead
With the valiant work of (RED)
For the poor and doing good
Stays the job of Robin Hood
UN stays on the front burner
Thanks to our champ Ted Turner
And whole revolutions stem
From the work of UNIFEM
But tonight my special shout-out
Goes to one I can't do without
We have traveled up and down
Frisco, Atlanta, Chicago town
Yes, the king of all the doers
Is my trusty friend Bill Luers
Bill, I cannot say goodbye
So take the floor and take a bow.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassador Bill Luers"
Okay, so he's no Biggie. I'll take him over MC Rove any day, though.
Yves "Fusion Man" Rossy's personal jetpack flight over the English Channel was just about the only good thing that happened in the world today:
Rossy, a pilot who normally flies an Airbus airliner, crossed the 22 miles between Calais and Dover at speeds of up to 120 mph in 13 minutes, his spokesman said.
When the white cliffs of Dover came into view, he opened a blue and yellow parachute and drifted down in light winds to land in a British field where he was mobbed by well-wishers.
"Everything was perfect," he said afterwards. "I showed that it is possible to fly a little bit like a bird."
Via Slate, here's a nifty webcam that shows you live images of Russia taken from across the international dateline in Alaska. (Actually it's the Russian island of Big Diomede from the Alaskan Little Diomede):
Passport, FP’s flagship blog, brings you news and hidden angles on the biggest stories of the day, as well as insights and under-the-radar gems from around the world.