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My Big Fat Greek Minister

Greg Palast 

For Vice Magazine

It wasn’t too difficult picking out the Fat Bastard in the crowd of Russian models, craven moochers and media mavens. Besides, Fat Bastard and I were both desperate for coffee and heading for the same empty urn.

(We’d both signed on for Kazakhstan’s annual Eurasia Media Forum, a kind of Burning Man festival for Eastern oilgarchs and their media camp followers.)

Now, it is my policy never to mention an interlocutor’s weight, nor question the legitimacy of their birth, given my own vulnerabilities. (A would-be groupie told me, “You could do a few sit-ups, you know.” Yes, I know.)

But this particular Fat Bastard is asking for it. I had tried to put the belly of this beast out of my thoughts, but I still had a New York Times story folded in my pocket that begins:

ATHENS – As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

Fat Bastard – or Theodoros Pangalos, thinks the little Greek kiddies should …more